Christian Photographers Sued for Refusing to Take Pictures of Gay Wedding

Categories: LGBT
Thumbnail image for rsz_gay-wedding-cake_toppers.jpg
Are we to assume the person who shot this photo is not Christian?
New Mexico took the South out of Southwest when it told Christian photographers that they could not discriminate against gay couples when shooting photos of weddings and commitment ceremonies.

A New Mexico court against Elane Photography, saying the God-loving photographers there had indeed violated the state's antidiscrimination laws when they refused to photograph a gay couple's commitment ceremony, but only after finding out they were homosexuals.

According to court documents filed this week, Vanessa Willock's partner sent Elane Photography an e-mail about the upcoming ceremony without disclosing her sexual orientation. She then she received a response with pricing information and an offer to meet with photographers.

But when the photography studio found out that they would be snapping photos of two women in love, well, that made head photographer Elaine Huguenin uncomfortable in that Ted Haggard sort of way.
According to the claim:
Elane Photography's owners are Christians who believe that marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman. They also believe that photography is an artistically expressive form of communication and photographing a same-sex commitment ceremony would disobey God and the teachings of the Bible by communicating a message contrary to their religious and personal beliefs.
Willock then complained to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission in 2006, which concluded that not photographing the wedding would be disobeying the state's antidiscrimination laws. The commission ordered Elane to pay Willock more than $6,600 in attorneys' fees.

Elane Photography appealed the decision, which was denied by a New Mexico judge. The Christian photographers then took their case to the Court of Appeals, which determined that the photography studio is a "public accommodation" and can't refuse customers based on their sexual orientation.

The New Mexico Human Rights Act expansively defines a public accommodation as any establishment that provides or offers its services, facilities, accommodations or goods to the public, according to the court.

Hat Tip: Courthouse News

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly.

My Voice Nation Help
47 comments
pspinn2
pspinn2

ALL THE JUDGE'S ARE WRONG AND SHOULD BE DISBARRED!

So your saying that the photographer has to give up her Constitutional rights under the FREEDOM of RELIGION. You people (LGBT(U  for unknown) can't just live your life without conflict. Just be gay and stop demanding SPECIAL TREATMENT! If all gay men were like Will from "Will & Grace" instead of "Just Jack" and sorry I haven't any good women examples. 

 I believe in HUMAN RIGHTS for all. Work, play, public affection (not excessive)what ever. Just because they have a RIGHT to be gay does not over ride the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and most of all RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS!

thesteelgeneral
thesteelgeneral

Ha ha, serves them right! homophobic a-holes! discrimination is not a right and isn't right Lots' of fallacious reasoning here: being rude is behavior, and is not the same as a sexual orientation. nudity, the same thing. It's a VERY GOOD decision. oh, and just TRY to put on your site or advertising that you do not work gay weddings .... i dare you.

trea_angel
trea_angel

This is just going to open up a whole can or BS law suits! Every catorer who refused to cater for a bitchy bride or rude groom who happened to be gay can now sue them for it! Every baker who refused to make a penis or vagina cake but made a cake for a gay couple can now be sued for being bisit even though it may have been a normal cake for the couple. It's just like those who didn't hire some one who was unqualified but happened to be black can be sued for racism. If we keep bringing it up how different people we encourage racism and hated for people being "different". If people would just except that every one is different with their OWN IDEAS and opinions and beliefs and STOP PROMOTING/publicizing those who DO RACIST, HATEFUL OR SEXIST THINGS and only PROMOTE  CASES of people WORKING TOGETHER WITHOUT making A BIG DEAL out of them BEING DIFFERENT races, genders or religions but working for a BETTER COMMUNITY or WORLD. We MIGHT see some REAL CHANGE. But until then we will keep getting people wanting handouts and willing to cut others down and be hateful or greedy who will keep finding ways to get money they feel is "entitled " to them... Never excepting that they could be the better person and show them the errors of their ways... In this case the couple could find another good photographer and send this business a great shot that captured the love they have for each other. Now not everyone has an eye for photography and you can't fake art or force some one to make it. So it seems we have to be more careful when we turn people away... Perhaps if they took the more artistic approach rather than the religious there wouldn't have been a problem... Or if they at least gave the couple a list of other photographers who would photograph their ceremony they may not have had this law suite... 

soprano245
soprano245

I am actually for gay rights and would gladly photograph a gay wedding. However, I don't believe it is right to force a privately owned business to photograph one. We as photographers are artists, and we won't give the best quality if it's something we don't want to do or feel uncomfortable doing. What if a couple comes to me and asks me to photograph them having sex? Will I be sued because I don't feel comfortable doing that? Why, in this "free" society, should the government tell me what I HAVE to photograph. This upsets me.

Sardent
Sardent

For photographers, I have to wonder how many of you who find this a good decision, would equally side with gay models who did not want to pose involving clearly heterosexual imagery?

Or models of any persuasion being forced to be involved in imagery they don't approve of?

 

If not, I guess I'd have to say you're a hypocrite.

 

Or is it just gays who get special rights?

Stephanie
Stephanie

Why does everything have to turn into a big PC sue-fest?  It's chilling to me that the government can force people to do things against their will, or make you pay through the teeth because you didn't.  People are entitled to their opinions, and they shouldn't be forced to do something they don't want to. 

VEK wedding photographer
VEK wedding photographer

It is very good thing that christian photographers will be charged to do this. Nowadays in so many countries gay marriages are official. There is no need to ignore gay marriage. There is no crime to capture a images of gay marriage.

Maliha
Maliha

Allah destroyed Lut's(Lot's ) Peace be upon Him nation for the crime of homosexuality . My Allah bless him for standing up for Allah's law. At the end of the day it is him we return to for judge ment . Don't be destroyed like Lot's wife for supporting a lifestyle contrary to God 's law

Photographer
Photographer

Christian photographers one of the best for wedding photos captured. I just visited your site and i am really impressed with your creativity. I appreciated for your work.   

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

And I don't argue with the intentionally ignorant.  

guest
guest

 Are you trying to say homosexuals are born homosexual?? Try and prove they are......but by reading your hateful posts...you will have something "nice" for me too..I won't argue with a fool.....

Meeches Peaches
Meeches Peaches

Wow, I wonder how many times the U.S Patriot Act prompted you to make that statement. I'm just wondering. Are you truly pro-liberty or pro-fervent ideology? 

Meeches Peaches
Meeches Peaches

That's hilarious that they keep using Christianity as an excuse for their bigotry. Biblically marriage has had little to do with a sacred union between a man and a woman, and often condoned bigamy and the regard for wives a "property" of their husbands. If you need to hide behind God to mask you true hateful nature, God doesn't like you.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

You seem to be rather interested in the thought of me having sex.  Maybe you should stop masturbating before posting a comment.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

 Well my religion says you have to give me all your money.  So you'd better hand it over -- or else you're being a bigot.

Guest
Guest

 You should not talk Eric. You're the one who enjoys having the penis in your ass(shit trail). Remember, AIDS is right around the corner for you.

Guest
Guest

 Standing up for your religious rights is NOT being a bigot. Forcing someone to do something that is contrary to their beliefs is a unforgivable act and must be fought back against.

Guest
Guest

This whole thing was a set up by the gays in order to ensnare the photographers and cause a public outcry. It's been done before. It's their way of shining light on their abhorrent lifestyle and trying to stuff it down our throats under the protection of the courts. We MUST stand up against this injustice and fight back like never before.

Radley41
Radley41

I feel that the photographers should be allowed to say no if they do not agree with this. It is there time and if they believe one man one woman then I am right there with them. God bless you for standing up to what you believe.  

Sam Infusia
Sam Infusia

So Mr. Eric, Let us look at the hypocrisy in your "locals only" context. So according to your logic, a Christian photographer must be forced to take pictures at a gay wedding, but YOU have the right to discriminate regionally and prevent non-locals from exercising their first amendment right of freedom of speech and expression in an internet news outlet.  Gotcha.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

 Already answered that question.  Please read my comments before hitting the reply button.

Sam
Sam

Who are you to determine who posts here?

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

 Oh I'm sorry, are you still pretending to be different people? Look dude, the whole KKK thing is over.  It's time to just admit that you lost the culture war and move on.  And yes, this site is called SF Weekly.  If you don't live around here, then why are you reading it?  Do you just come here to make yourself look stupid, or do you have an ulterior motive?

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

Eric: So you appointed yourself determiner of who can post here and who cannot? You think you are authorized to regulate free speech? Hah! You are too, too much. BTW, I am not a skin head. Didn't you accuse "Big" of the same thing earlier? Why would you hate skinheads anyway? 

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

 No, you shouldn't be posting here.  Obviously you just came here to express your skinhead views, you have no real interest in this aside from showing the world you're a douche.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

"Buddy," you need to learn how Disqus works.  You should also try posting with the same account instead of registering a new one for each comment.

WWJD
WWJD

The photographer is not practicing real Christian values, God loves everyone.

Straight Up
Straight Up

Buddy, are you that worried about this article that you have to follow it for a full 24 hours?  You've been posting to this thing since it came out.  You talk about how people need to finish their education and how retarded people are.  How about you go get yourself a day job and become a contributing member of society rather than pushing your own obscure sexuality on everyone else and insulting them at the same time?

Big
Big

 the anus is for pooping

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Once again, you're trying to lump the conservative movement -- and now straight people, which is about 90% of the population -- into your bigoted belief system.  You might want to check with those two groups before you make such an assertion, because you know damn well they won't side with skinheads such as yourself.

Big
Big

Liberal gays, so intolerant...tsk tsk

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

And you don't know what the word "psychotic" means.  I can tell I'm dealing with a really intelligent guy here.

Big
Big

You're psychotic.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

You just outed yourself as not living in the bay area, first of all.  So why are you posting here? Secondly, yes you are a skinhead.  Whether you want to continue pretending like you're not is up to you, but suffice to say that you're fooling no one but yourself.

Big
Big

Now I'm a skinhead ? Wow.... I have no problem with gay people, or any people. But if someone chooses not to accept ME, I can't expect gov't to make them like me....that's just stupid. If a golf club/business is private, what's the big deal. It's not like riding the BART.

ansylem12
ansylem12

@pspinn2 Thank OH ALMIGHTY GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST FOR TRUE CHRISTIANS AND BELIEVERS OF THE TRUE WORD OF GOD

ansylem12
ansylem12

@thesteelgeneral pharaoh said the same thing too and look what happened to him. he and his evil will never for OH ALIMGHTY  GOD AND MOSES

jmeirhofer
jmeirhofer

@thesteelgeneral So you are saying that everyone should be tolerant and except the views of gays but that there is should be no exception for those who do not hold the same view?  Isn't that just a little bit hypocritical of you?  

When did the law pass that we have to accept what ever anyone else wants to do regardless of how we feel about it? 

hendrixcita
hendrixcita

@thesteelgeneral don't be ridiculous.... this has nothing to do with being homophobic... this has to do with what you believe or not. they can go ahead and do whatever they want, but do not obligate people to accept it. 

soprano245
soprano245

Also, artists discriminate all the time. When I do casting calls I look for a specific body type and look. Will the government tell me that I can't do that as well?

camerond111989
camerond111989

@Stephanie this has been a law before they even started their business up, you can't pick and choose what laws you want to follow, especially based on discrimination.  This is the same as denying a black couple services, its discrimination period and needs to be stopped.  

bestphotography
bestphotography

^^^ the above post is why religious fundamentalism, Islam in the top spot; should be made to follow strict legal guidelines separating SECULAR issues from zealotry.

camerond111989
camerond111989

@jmeirhofer you dont have to unless your a business owner, dont expect it to be ok to refuse service to someone based on color or sexual orientation.  This isn't the dark ages and you should realize that asap

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...