New Mexico’s Frightening Court Ruling That Demands Christian Photographers Must Shoot Gay Weddings


In 2006, New Mexico’s Vanessa Willock asked the owners of Elane Photography if they were interested in being paid to photograph her commitment ceremony to Misty Pascottini. But Elane’s owners declined, pointing to their Christian beliefs that didn’t approve of homosexuality, let alone homosexual relationships. That led the state’s Civil Rights Commission, at Wilcock’s behest, ordering the photo company to pay $6,637.94 in damages and attorneys fees for violating the couple’s rights under state law. And a judge just upheld that ruling. Stupidly.

Because Elane Photography, owned by wife-and-husband team Elaine and Jon Huguenin, is a “public accommodation,” it’s not entitled to discriminate against anyone in business, ruled District Judge Alan M. Malott, affirming the $6,600 ruling.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Huguenins, has promised to appeal.

And I actually agree with ADF senior counsel Jordan Lorence’s argument: “Christians in the marketplace should not be subject to predatory legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs. The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with and thereby violate their conscience. Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy? American small business owners do not surrender their constitutional rights at the marketplace gate, nor can the government make people choose between their faith and their livelihood.”

A photography company is not a public accommodation; it is a private business, which should have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Even if that means it’s engaged in discrimination. There’s a distinction between private companies and government-run entities, which must adhere to non-discrimination codes. But I wouldn’t want to see a court rule against a gay photographer who, on moral grounds, refused to take the business of a religious fundamentalist and homophobic couple. Because religion is a protected class, just like sexual orientation. Under the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a “government agency shall not restrict a person’s free exercise of religion [i.e., an act or a refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief] unless … the application of the restriction to the person is essential to further a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” Which is exactly what New Mexico’s Civil Rights Commission, and now courts, are doing; there is no compelling government interest.

Let the wedding photographers discriminate. It’s their choice who to engage in business with. And besides, what gay couple wants to patronize — and, literally, fund — a business that looks down on us?

[UPDATE: Ed: Rightfully so, a number of readers completely disagree with Mr. Smith’s argument. Queerty counts itself among them. We don’t maintain too many “policies,” but generally we’re in favor of prohibiting discrimination across the board, whether it’s based on religion or sexuality. We understand Mr. Smith’s rationale. We do not agree with it.]

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #discrimination #elainehuguenin #elanephotography stories and more


  • AdamA

    Queerty! You actually don’t sound crazy in this post. As much as I find these business owners’ ethics repulsive, its their right to lose gay business.

  • John k.

    When instarted reading this article indisagreed vehemently. I’m still not sure I agree, but I’m definitely thinking more about it now and moving in that direction. I’m just concerned that everyone has the right to discriminate in a given situation or nobody does. I still don’t know though because the same argument can be made about restaurants refusing to cater to African Americans. Why should the camera shop owner get to discriminate but not the restaurant owner?

  • Evan

    So I guess it’s cool for Fundamentalist Christians to refuse to rent to gay people, too?

    Cool. Gotcha.

    Your argument might feel like it makes sense, but it does not.

  • Alexandre

    @John K makes a very good point

  • Prof. Donald Gaudard

    You really blew it this time, Queerty!! This is not a PRIVATE business. It is a business open to the public–ALL the public. If you want to discriminate, go out of public business and find something else to do. John K was right–if a public business can discriminate whenever they want, they could refuse to serve any African American or any gay person or any woman or anyone else that they wanted to.

    It’s time you move into the 21st century, Queerty!! You’ve been spending too much time looking at the photos of hunky men and too little time thinking.

  • shay75

    I sort of agree with Travis’s argument, but there are a lot of flaws here

  • Quesa

    If a Mormon photographer discriminated against black people in services because of his beliefs, would that be OK to you too?

    Maybe it would, because the rich white male editors of Queerty cannot relate to the need for these laws.

  • Quesa

    @AdamA: You are obviously not thinking of the flipside to “losing gay business”. The personal and social traumas of gay couples going from restaurant to restaurant, after refusing to be served? Forced into gay ghettoes, unable to use the same services and come into the mainstream of society, taking a separate line to the movie theatre from their hetero couple friends?

    If you’re going to allow for ‘straight businesses’ and gays-allowed businesses, why does Queerty not advocate for civil unions, open to anyone, and leaving special hetero marriage? Effectively, without this, the society becomes one of unequal privilege and apartheid.

    Something the pseudo-Libertarians at Queerty should also think about. Discrimination interferes with the free market, since gay people effectively shut out of employment, capital, or services are a wasted resource.

  • Bill

    I wonder if a gay makeup artist or hairdresser refused to provide services to a heterosexual wedding simply on the basis of their sexuality, if the ramifications are the same. Let’s say the hetero couple tries to hire the gay makeup artist or hairdresser, who then states to the heteros that THEIR religion does not believe in heterosexual relationships, is there any difference legally?

    Serious question.

    Does anyone know the answer?

    Also, perhaps it is time for gay people to stop providing wedding services to the heterosexuals who abuse them and deny them their civil rights in the name of God and Religion? Can you IMAGINE the spectacular hetero-planned wedding celebration???

    Doritos, Spam and beer served atop a picnic table in the parking lot of Dodger’s Stadium while Captain & Tennielle’s ‘Muskrat Love’ runs on perpetual loop from the cab of their pick-up truck while they plan their eventual divorce while simultaneously looking for their next spouse-for-life.

    Good times!

  • JRD

    Yes and no.

    While they have the right to refuse service to anyone. If they say WHY, a protected class can sue. Or, if they were an actual religious institution they could use it as a basis of discrimination, otherwise, they are just being bigots.

  • Scott

    I’m not sure I agree but I guess I’d rather not have this company forced to video my wedding, do a bad job, and then I’d be out the money. At least I know where I stand with them. However, does that mean my doctor in New Mexico can refuse to treat me? Does the Doctor’s contract with the insurance company force them to see any patient?

  • Karanis

    “Public accommodation”? I’m unsure as to what they mean by that. I’ve never heard of a commitment ceremony photography service run by any level of government.

    @ No. 5, I think he means it’s privately OWNED. It’s still open to the general public, it’s just run by citizens rather than government. If it WAS government-run, then the couple in question WOULD have a case against discrimination (I’m guessing that’s why they’re calling Elane Photography a “public accommodation”?). Any private business owner has the right to shoot themselves in the foot like this, but an actual public service does not, in theory, have that luxury.

    And who cares? Surely you can just find another photographer. It’s a free market, it’d be MUCH easier to just find someone else to photograph your ceremony than try to go after someone in court. Elane Photography loses business, money, and reputation because of their motivations for not photographing. If you’re a private business owner that discriminates like this, that is a perfectly fair price to pay.

  • Glasser

    Public businesses should not discriminate against humans in any situation. We are not animals like the comparison analogy you used above. I would certainly recommend you keep us out of the pet comparison category and plop us back on the human bill board. If someone doesn’t want to photograph a gay wedding, then maybe they are in the wrong industry.

  • Jeff R

    Maybe — but only maybe — the expressive aspect of photography and videography makes these businesses special, and justifies a First Amendment exception. But the freedom of contract argument set forth in this post is the argument that was made against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Fortunately the Supreme Court rejected it, or Jim Crow would be alive and well. Hotels and restaurants and airlines and apartment complexes are private businesses, but it’s illegal for them to discriminate, and it should be.

  • Cam

    The photographers shouldn’t have preached. Just say you can’t do it. But the photographers crossed into another arena by prostylizing against the customers lifestyle to her. I think that is what screwed them. If they simply said “We can’t.” or “We only have a policy of videographing wedding ceremonies that are legal under state law.” there would have been nothing the person could do.

  • Sean

    I think this is perfectly within their rights. It’s not like they are performing an essential public service (which I would describe as food, shelter, medical stuff, travel and perhaps some others). Filming a commitment ceremony would definitely be a public service. I’ve had some libertarian leanings in my time, and this doesn’t quite gel with them.

  • Bill

    A simple, ‘We do not have any photographers available to service your event on that date,” on the part of the heterosexuals would have put an instant end to this ridiculous situation.

    However, heterosexuals of the Christian variety simply can not seem to keep their silly mouths shut. Every opportunity to ‘testify’ for Christ and to judge on Christ’s behalf is simply too Jesusy for them to pass up.

    Christian heterosexuals have always and will always be interested in one thing: their right to treat others badly.

    Also very Jesusy, right?

  • tarxien

    Yesterday christian activist, Lillian Ladele lost her appeal against Islington Council. She had claimed that she was discriminated against by being asked, as a registrar, to conduct Civil Partnership ceremonies. This is the Court’s ruling:
    “It held that these regulations, which prohibit discrimination in the delivery to the public of goods facilities or services, took precedence over any right that a person would otherwise have by virtue of his or her religion or religious belief or faith, to practise discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

    I totally agree with this ruling. Ms Ladele’s salary came for my taxes. She has no right as an employee to refuse to carry out essential parts of her job. She has now resigned and good riddance

  • L.Single

    Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act several small businesses, one a hotel, one a restaurant, challenged the ability of the federal government to ban discrimination in public accomodations — private businesses that offer services to the public. The restaurant’s case is here: The Supreme Court noted Congressional hearings discussing the inability of African-American families to travel because of the lack of hotels and restaurants that would rent them rooms or serve them food.

    The hearings on the Americans with Disabilities Act included witnesses who testified to Congress that they had not been able to go to the movies or to a restaurant in years because the facilities were not accessible to them.

    Recent public accomodation discrimination cases have involved a lesbian couple who were denied services of reproductive health clinics when they wanted to do invitro fertilization and a gay couple who were denied services by adoption agencies.

    So, yeah, these laws matter. If it was an ER doctor saying that he wouldn’t deliver a lesbian’s baby because he doesn’t believe in gays parenting, you wouldn’t be OK with that. We can’t start making exceptions for some bigots just because it doesn’t seem right in one circumstance.

  • David

    “Maybe — but only maybe — the expressive aspect of photography and videography makes these businesses special, and justifies a First Amendment exception.”

    That’s a poor excuse. A chef would argue that from his or her perspective, cooking is ‘expressive’, and a hotelier who has carefully crafted his or her hotel/motel/B&B could argue the same.

    One could argue that just about any work or service, particularly if done with some level of mastery, is ‘expressive’.

    Letting this photographer discriminate against a same-sex couple would have create a precedent for other private businesses, like doctors, lawyers, cab drivers, ambulance companies (in many cities), restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, . . . to discriminate as well – against gays and lesbians, or people of color, or atheists or Christians or employees of the BBC.

  • Evan

    Yeah, again, it’s really simple.

    There’s such a thing as a “protected class” of people, and in New Mexico, thankfully, sexual orientation is protected. It is equal, in the eyes of the law, to the couple denying the couple because they were black.

    It’s actually pretty shameful seeing this come from any gay website other than the self-hating Gay Patriots.

    I hold out hope that the writer simply didn’t think it through before posting.

  • FakeName

    On Bizarro World, demanding to be treated equally without regard to sexual orientation is a “predatory legal attack”.

  • Mark from NM

    I agree with whomever said it earlier, they could’ve said we’re busy and no one is available to photograph that weekend. The story would have just stopped there but yes, the Christian self righteous can’t keep their silly mouths shut. But, I don’t know that I agree with suing the photographers either. I understand equal rights and all but, and don’t jump up and down on for this as I am entitled to my opinion, I personally would have let it end there and instead, let others know why that photographer wasn’t chosen. An unhappy customer can actually do a lot more damage than a lawsuit.

  • Rick in Kansas

    While Elane Photography is a privately owned business, it IS a public accommodation under the definition of the phrase in the law. By offering her services as a photographer to the public, Ms Huguenin is bound by the conditions of doing business under the Human Rights Act and that includes not discriminating against customers on the basis of their sexual orientation. The thought that a business reserves the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, is a quaint notion, but an incredibly obsolete one. What Ms Huguenin did in refusing her services to this couple was to violate their civil rights and to offer her a pass because of her “religious beliefs” is nothing short of offensive. Quite frankly, she earned this civil penalty by essentially waving a “no queers allowed” sign in these women’s faces. If she had even a lick of anything that could be confused with common sense, she could have just said that they were booked that day, but no, she had to make it a point that she doesn’t do dykes because they’re sinful.

    Yes, business owners do have the right to be anti-gay or even anti-straight for that matter, but if they intend on operating in states where the offer of goods and services cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation, not even blaming god for your bigotry should be allowed as a justification for violating the law. A business owner’s right to their bigotry ENDS at the customer’s right not to be discriminated against because of it. Your position in this case is a complete disappointment.

  • bnmurphy

    There was a time when private establishments, on the grounds of moral beliefs, supported by their interpretation of the Bible, refused to serve African-Americans.

    There was a time when private establishments, on the grounds of moral beliefs, supported by their interpretations of the Bible, enforced “separate but equal” bathroom accommodations.

    There was a time when private establishments, on the grounds of moral beliefs, supported by their interpretations of the Bible, did all sorts of things.

    That time is past.

  • Storm Christopher

    Let’s bring this home to an issue faced too often in the gay community in too many parts of the country. By this argument, gay bar owners should be allowed to ban black customers. “…it is a private business, which should have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Even if that means it’s engaged in discrimination.” Is this really what QUEERTY is arguing? Then QUEERTY has gone batshit crazy.

  • Evan

    I’m actually really surprised that this post hasn’t been updated/amended, some sort of “Oh crap, I had left my soul in the bathroom while I was posting this, and I just found it again, and I’m so sorry I posted this,” a mea culpa of SOME sort.

    Really, Queerty? Did Daniel Blatt tie you all up and take your computer?

  • orpheus_lost

    A couple of months ago Queerty was ranting about a restaurant in Texas that kicked out a group of gay men yet today they say its fine to allow businesses to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. It has to be one or the other.

    Would it be fine for this studio to tell a an African-American couple they don’t agree with allowing other races to marry and decline to serve them? How about Latinos? Inter-racial couples?

    If Queerty agrees that it should be against the law to discriminate against people based on the characteristics they were born with, then either they should admit to being wrong here, or come out and claim that people aren’t born gay.

  • Superman

    Are Travis Smith and Queerty crazy or just plain stupid? I cannot believe this site is advocating that “…a private business…should have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Even if that means it’s engaged in discrimination.” There are many laws and statues in place that aim to END discrimination based on race, religion, age, gender, and yes, even sexual orientation in some cases. Yet Smith and Queerty are positing the argument that it is okay for a business to discriminate?! It is NEVER okay to discriminate. We are fighting for equal protection under the law. We don’t need laws that make it easier for any group to violate the rights of another group. You seriously need to reconsider your priorities, Queerty, and stop making the hate groups’ jobs easier! Morons.

  • Jack

    Rick in Kansas is right and Queerty is wrong. Legally speaking, “public accommodation” doesn’t mean “government run.” It means that a business is open to the public. So as long as sexual orientation is a protected class in New Mexico (and it seems they are) these photographers are SOL.

  • Steve

    At one time in history, just a few decades ago, many hotels and restaurants routinely refused to accommodate black people. The owners claimed religious belief against allowing black people to sleep in the same beds as whites, or to eat off the same dishes.

    The civil rights act made that illegal. The legislature, and later the courts, reasoned that if there is only one hotel or restaurant in an area, then it must serve all people without discrimination, and that the same rules must apply to all hotels and restaurants. The idea of ‘public accommodation’ does not mean ‘place to sleep’. It means a business that makes an offer to the public. The concept applies to hotels and restaurants. It also applies to shops that sell food, beverages, clothing, transportation, and just about any other thing that people might want to buy. And, it applies to businesses that sell services, too. Any business that makes an offer to the general public must allow any member of the public to take that offer, without discrimination.

    No one is forced to sell anything. If you have a religious belief that you must not allow black people to sleep in your guest room, you may simply refrain from offering the rent of your guest room to the general public. But, if you do make that offer, and a black person does take it, you may not discriminate.

    That the courts are beginning to apply the same reasoning to gay people is a good thing. All of the precedents that protect black people from discrimination will soon apply to protect gay people.

  • Daniel

    Queerty should study basic law… based on Queerty’s assertions a gay doctor could stop mid-surgury on a rightwing Christian fundamentalist because saving that fundamentalist violates the doctor’s right to deeply held beliefs about who to serve or not serve based on religion when providing a public accommodation, in this case, surgury. That is a dangerous and absurb notion. Was Queerty drinking when they wrote this? Based on Queerty’s assertion, a Mormon controlled power grid could shut off power to a hospital serving black people because one of the core tenants of fundamentalist Mormonism is that non-whites are evil (the offspring of Cain, while whites are offspring of Able). Religion provides no sanctuary when providing a BUSINESS. If these photographers want to start a non-profit and provide no services to the general public, they can discriminate all they want. In the meantime, they are a BUSINESS. They wouldn’t want their camera suppliers to stop supplying them based on the supplier’s religious beliefs, so it is ridiculous they expect to do the same to others.

  • San Francisco Treat

    I think it’s hilarious that so many people are posting their opinions on whether businesses open the public should be entitled to discriminate against people.

    Reality check – your opinions are irrelevant (you too Queerty). That shit is ILLEGAL.

    Queerty writes, “There’s a distinction between private companies and government-run entities, which must adhere to non-discrimination codes.” I have noted this before, maybe when you comment on legal issues, you should consult a lawyer because you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Edward

    I couldn’t agree more with ‘San Francisco Treat’. And I’ll add this: when is some poor gay guy, who thinks that it’s okay for people to shit on him, ever going to find his balls? Or at least use them for more than horsewhipping himself? To Travis, the author of this editorial and any other gay man who reads the article and agrees with him I say: for god’s sake…you are siding with people who think that references in a 2000 year old book trump nature. Nature gave me my life, not the owners of a photography store who don’t approve of me. I answer to my god – not theirs – and in the end, we will see who it was who acted like the better human being. The owners of Elane Photography, who don’t agree with giving people equal rights? Or me – the man who is fighting for them?

  • Qjersey

    if you don’t want to deal with LGBT clients, then change the name of your business by adding the word “christian.” That way we’ll know not to bother in the first place and avoid having to be told no and sermonized to.

  • tiredinus

    OFCS – there’s got to be more here than meets the eye.. why would anyone want to have a photographer capturing a ceremony that he or she was uncomfortable with. Photography ain’t just snapping pictures. In order to do it right and create the kind of lasting images I would want (if it were me) the photographer/videographer has got to be someshat invented in the process. As an example, my brother recently got married and had a photographer who cost a bundle and snapped over 750 pictures. They were posted on a site where prints could be ordered and NOT one of them was worth the pixels it took to display it. We’ve shared images shot by others in attendance and several are much better than any of those ‘professionally’ taken because they were taken with care.

  • San Francisco Treat

    Let me make it easier for you Queerty, African American woman walks into the studio and asks the photographer if he will take pics at her upcoming wedding. The photographer says, “We do weddings, just not black weddings.”

    Think the laws against that should be repealed too?

  • Chris


    As usual, you are talking out of your ass! Sears and K-Mart are privately owned. They cannot refuse service to someone because of religion or race. Right? Why should some be able to refuse service based on sexual orientation?

  • Melina

    Look. The point of this was NOT to force the photographer to take photos of the couple’s ceremony. It was that Elane Photography, which is an incorporated business, had a COMPANY POLICY of discrimination against sexual orientation. They admitted it under oath multiple times. Read the commission finding from Oct 2008 as I did and you will see that. You may also find it interesting that the commission offers free mediation and Elane Photography refused. They were the ones who were publicity seeking opportunists. The gay couple obviously just wanted to right a wrong since they weren’t seeking damages. By the way, the commission only awarded attorney’s fees NOT damages as some people are saying.

    The judge’s opinion is a matter of public record as well. Read it. You’ll see that they Alliance Defense Fund attorneys for Elane Photography used every flimsy arguement in the book. They even manipulated and twisted past rulings to fit their arguements as if the judge would not notice.

  • edgyguy1426

    No. 39 Chris: Have you read the Editors note?

  • FakeName

    Wait, who’s Mister Smith? Is there a byline somewhere that I’m missing?

  • Evan

    Yeah, it’s kind of hard to find. I didn’t see it at first, myself. It’s below the “You might also like” suggestions.

    I updated my piece on the subject to reflect the editors’ note.

  • Chris G

    This site is terrible. The sheer stupidity of not understanding of basic 10th grade Civics.

    If a business is in the marketplace — selling to the public — they cannot, unlaws in 21 states inlcuding NM (and CA and NY where I think you’re located) discriminate on the basis race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. That means if you walk into a restuarant the owner cannot say NO FAGS ALLOWED and throw you out.

    PUBLIC ACCOMODATIONS are those the are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, not those owned by the state. That’s a very basic point of law. Public Accomodations are included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of Jim Crow policies in restaurants, etc. in the South against Black people.

    If we take the author’s point any resaurant, hotel, airline, store, etc., could bar gay people. Are you seriously giving someone who arguing for this a platform on your site?

    If you are, then you have broken trust with every reader you have.

    If you don’t understand the import of rolling back nondiscrimination laws — the you have no business running this site and you are pure frauds.

    Also, if you let a business off the hook on who they sell to, what is to stop rolling back laws on who they hire: “We don’t hire fags” — that’s where this leads and you giving space to someone who wants to lead us there.

    Why should any self-respecting gay person continue to visit your site if you don’t understand the most basic aspects of our struggle for civil rights?


  • Chris G

    One more note: when a federal sexual orientation public accomodation non-discrimination law comes, or in a few months when one is dabated in any of the 29 states that don’t yet have one, THIS ARTICLE WILL BE USED by the gay haters to prove that even gay people oppose non-discrimnation laws.

    So far from helping, or even being neutral, Queerty has now very actively hurt gay people and will as long as this piece is up.

  • Chris G

    NB: An example of a “private accomodation” in civil rights law is a private club or organization such as the Ancient Order of Hiberians (which runs the St. Patrick’s Day Parade) or the Boy Scouts of America or a country club. Sound familiar? See the difference? They are PRIVATE, they only MEMBERS only, and they have every right under the constition to block black people, gay people or whoever they want for whatever reason as long as they are not selling to the general public or taking public money.

    This is simple basic law I thought every person in America with a High School education knew.

  • ChiDesigner

    While I understand the majority of the commenters’ sentiment – that discrimination should not exist, I look at this a little differently. The court ruling was incorrect – a photography business is not a ‘public accomodation.’ A hotel, a restaurant, a department store – these are to be considered ‘public accomodations.’ I think the thing most people are not seeing about this case is right in front of their faces: The flipside of this is not pretty.

    I myself am a freelance graphic designer. If a right-wing fundamentalist potential client approached me about designing a brochure and website for their ministry which, while not mentioning it in the literature, is known for homophobia, I would turn that client down on my own moral beliefs. But I wouldn’t want a court ruling and rule of law to state that I would be forced to accept that client and perform that work.

    As an atheist, if I may borrow a Christian tenet: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  • FakeName

    Get a grip. No one’s going to be trolling the Internet for articles on how British people feel about American non-discrimination laws.

  • FakeName

    The court ruling was incorrect – a photography business is not a ‘public accomodation.’ A hotel, a restaurant, a department store – these are to be considered ‘public accomodations.’

    Per New Mexico statute 28-1-2.H: “‘public accommodation’ means any establishment that provides or offers its services, facilities, accommodations or goods to the public, but does not include a bona fide private club or other place or establishment that is by its nature and use distinctly private”

  • FakeName

    I myself am a freelance graphic designer. If a right-wing fundamentalist potential client approached me about designing a brochure and website for their ministry which, while not mentioning it in the literature, is known for homophobia, I would turn that client down on my own moral beliefs. But I wouldn’t want a court ruling and rule of law to state that I would be forced to accept that client and perform that work.

    “Homophobe” is not a protected class under New Mexico law.

  • Melina

    Fakename, you would be surprised at who goes trolling around on the internet looking for opinions on this case. I’m in Texas and I found it. :o)

    It does cause harm to our pursuit of equal rights when the public reads posts from queers that don’t believe that the NM court’s ruling was fair. Even if you think this seems like making mountains of mole hills, we need to support these women. Ask any African American how Rosa Parks’ refusal to sit at the back of the bus affected their fight for equal rights. There may have been people back then that thought that she was making something out of nothing, but that single act of civil disobedience inspired many others to follow suit. So, let’s not make judgements so quickly. It was very courageous for these women to stand up for their rights and make sure that the law in New Mexico was enforced.

  • ChiDesigner

    “Homophobe” is not a protected class under New Mexico law.

    But by me turning down that client, I would be discriminating against them on the basis of their religion and my feelings on it. And under this ruling, I could be held financially liable, and could lose my business.

    It’s a double-edged sword that I’m not sure GLBT business owners are ready to be cut by. As the old adage goes, “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.”

  • Evan

    I guess, ChiDesigner, the only unresolved question is why you would want to act so petty and small as fundamentalist Christians act toward us.

  • FakeName

    But by me turning down that client, I would be discriminating against them on the basis of their religion and my feelings on it.

    No, you would be “discriminating” against them on the basis of their actions, not their beliefs.

  • ChiDesigner

    No. 53 Evan
    I guess, ChiDesigner, the only unresolved question is why you would want to act so petty and small as fundamentalist Christians act toward us.

    No, the unresolved question is: What would you do? Would you accept the client’s business, designing church literature which you find morally reprehensible – all out of fear of losing your a$$ financially? Or would you tell them, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t do that”?

    Again, it’s a double-edged sword that I don’t think anyone in the GLBT community is prepared for.

    No. 54 FakeName
    No, you would be “discriminating” against them on the basis of their actions, not their beliefs.

    While I agree with you on the surface of that arguement, don’t think for a moment that they won’t turn this law around on us and sue.

  • Brian NJ

    Queerty is correct. Expanding the definition of public accomodation to every business who may do business with gay people is going too far. We have to worry about all civil rights, not just ours.

  • Evan

    Brian NJ,


    As per the law.


    I really don’t get what is so complicated about this.

    The definition of public accomodation is what it is. No one is “expanding it.” And nondiscrimination laws state that if you’re a public accomodation, you can’t discriminate against a protected class of people solely on that basis, which this couple did.

    I don’t know why so many are having such a hard time with this, really.

    10th grade Civics calling…

    ChiDesigner, you asked:

    “No, the unresolved question is: What would you do? Would you accept the client’s business, designing church literature which you find morally reprehensible”


    I do business with people all the time with people who have religious beliefs I find morally reprehensible. It doesn’t enter into our dealings. Bigots’ money spends just as well as any other kind, and when I find out one of my clients is anti-gay in a politically active way, I make sure to spend some of their money on something extra gay, just for kicks.

    And that’s part of the point — they’re coming to ME. If I’m aware that a business is anti-gay, I can choose to spend my money elsewhere. But for that person to come to me for a service, and for me to deny them that service based on their religious beliefs, is discrimination, just like what happened with the couple in New Mexico.

    And I’m sorry if the GLBT community isn’t “ready” for that, but frankly, I think most in the gay community DO get it (as is evidenced by the bulk of the comments in this thread, most of which are calling out the ignorance in the post), and if they don’t, it’s time to grow up.

  • Melina

    So, for the person who thought that no one would be trolling the internet for other opinions….You couldn’t have been more wrong. mentions that basically even gay people disagree with the ruling. Queerty, I am begging you to take down this opinion. It hurts our battle for equal rights by portraying us as a community divided.

  • ChiDesigner

    You’re right, Melina. We mustn’t have any disagreement, any debate. We must all think alike, lockstep, all with the same opinion (That’s sarcasm, lest you think I actually agree with you).

  • Daniel

    There are apparently a lot of ignorant people who comment here. When you enter the public marketplace (i.e. offer services to the public) you are then a public accommodation. You cannot offer services to some but not to others when your services are open to the general public. An artist photographer who does not do photos for hire is a private entity, while a photographer who offers to photograph others for hire or offers to sell photos is a public accommodation. When you enter the public marketplace looking for customers for your goods and services you are a public accommodation for goods and services. Obviously any GLBT business owner who understands basic business 101 accepts this as much as any Jewish business owner, Native American business owner, female business owner, etc. The reality is that people who want to be exempt from non-discrimination laws only want their actions to be exempt, they don’t want themselves to have no protection. It is hypocritical to say the least.

  • Jason R.

    LOL….And we wonder why we don’t have approval from the hetros?

    This homophobic drivel above (and yes, it was homophobic, and yes, gay people can have homophobic streaks) was written on one of the most prominent gay blogs on the net.

    I literally had to check and see what site I was on because I thought I got linked to a story on a conservative page.

    …seriously, we’re flcked when our own community does not at all see anything wrong with our discrimination.

  • Jason R.

    As for ChiDesigner:

    Uhm…YEAH… if you refused your service to potential clients who’s religious ideology did not match yours, I would not only hope you would get sued, but proudly applaud those religious folks for their victory in the case.

    Putting your service in the market place?….offer it to all. If you refuse and deny that service based on the clients THOUGHTS and beliefs…I’d gladly smile while seeing your company crash and burn.

    You’re attempts at devil’s advocate were weak.

  • Evan

    ChiDesigner, there’s nothing “lockstep” about this.

    If you want to be treated as an equal member of society, it’s not too much to ask that you act like one.

  • Superman

    @ Chi Designer

    If a group of Christian fundamentalists approaches you and asks you to design a religious brochure, tell them that you are gay. Chances are that they’ll walk away from you faster than Rick Warren from a pride parade.

    If they still want to work with you, then we’ve made progress.

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    @No.64 Superman

    Thank you for your simple and common sense approach and resolution; its quite eloquent in resolving a sincere dilemma.

    And I am completely supportive for the exemptions applied to private clubs, I sure don’t want to run into a woman in the steam room.

  • Melina

    I also agree that private clubs and churches and spiritual organizations should be exempt. In most states, there is protection for these organizations. For me, the argument here is that the company has an official POLICY to discriminate. If that same company had a policy to not photograph Muslim weddings, what do you think the reaction would be? What if it was an inter-racial couple. This happened to a couple in Louisiana just a couple of months ago. A Justice of the Peace refused to marry the couple based on their race. I am SHOCKED at the amount of press that did not get. We all should have been completely outraged. Discrimination is discrimination. This is not a case of ignore it and it will go away. We have to be “in your face” about making sure that the laws in place to protect us are enforced. As a Texas resident, I have zero protection. If we did, I would like to think that it would have “teeth” as New Mexico’s did and not just some effort to placate the queers request for equal rights.

    ChiDesigner…..I don’t expect everyone to jump on the bandwagon. However, it would be helpful if people made sure to educate themselves on the legal matter at hand (Such as terminology and the laws in the state) before sharing a somewhat misguided opinion. I really think that if everyone took the time to research the actual complaint and the responses from the commission and the judge it would lead to a better understanding of what is at stake as well as why we should be applauding these women. Even if your opinion stays the same, at least then it would be based on the facts and not just bits and pieces of information conveniently leaked to the public that paint Elane Photography as a victim.

  • Melina

    By the way, if anyone is interested, here is the finding.

    I think you’ll find this to be very enlightening. The judge was very thorough and explains his judgment very well.

  • Brian Miller

    So let’s reverse the situation.

    Suppose a Christian church approaches a gay video producer and asks him to produce a video that applauds the anti-gay law in Uganda and that advocates that homosexuality is a “mental illness” than can be “cured.”

    Under the same law, he’d be fined for refusing to produce it.

    As long as you’re OK with that…

  • Brian Miller

    If a group of Christian fundamentalists approaches you and asks you to design a religious brochure, tell them that you are gay. Chances are that they’ll walk away from you faster than Rick Warren from a pride parade.

    If they’re mean-spirited enough, they may begin producing their most noxious anti-gay poison using gay creatives — just to have the pleasure of more-or-less torturing you with both their bullshit and the notion that you’re profiting from making anti-gay content.

  • Storm Christopher

    Chidesigner says that he’s a FREELANCE graphic designer. I assume by that he’s never applied for a business license and does not have any kind of a storefront. As a freelance editor, I’m in a similar position, i.e., no business license, no shingle, no storefront. As such, I’m free to pick and choose my clients. I assume the same is the case for him. However, the moment he applies for and receives a business license and opens a storefront, he would then become subject to all the business laws of his state, and if he refused service to someone based on their religion, whether or not he agreed with their beliefs, he would probably become subject to a discrimination lawsuit.

  • JeffreyRO5

    Clearly we cannot permit the conduct of discriminatory conduct. It’s interesting that the fundies feel strongly that their religious beliefs are being undermined, yet they would just as strongly demand that an atheist restaurant owner be forced to serve Christians! Interesting double standard among our faith-based brethren LOL.

    Christians don’t mind discriminating because they themselves are so rarely the victims of discrimination: not so many Christians fired from work for being Christian, or kicked out of apartments for being Christian. Maybe some atheist will start refusing to serve Christians in his or her business and then the Christians can get a feel for what discrimination is like.

  • Nathan

    Sorry honey, you can’t buy my wedding dress because I don’t support gay marriages. Oh sorry, honey, yeah I don’t sell flowers to gay ceremonies. If you run a business either public or private that offers services for the “public” you can’t have discrimination as part of your business plan.

  • Amy Pancake

    Yeah, this article is bs – anyone who understands civil rights should know that this amounts to the same thing as separate but equal, which is illegal, and it is illegal for very basic reasons. Queerty you must be Republican queers???

    Do a little research into the civil rights movement beofre you let your personal opinions poison the web, please.

  • Melvin Johnston

    As a christian I believe that all sin is equal and forgivable however I totally disagree with the government forcing anyone to take part in the sins of other

    As a wedding photographer shooting a gay wedding could cause a loose of business making this a “Business Gamble” causing any future decrease in your business a case directed at the government who forced you take this chance.

    You should add a package to your weddings “GAYPAC” then add extra charges possible loss business.

    John 3:1-15==16

  • James Peron

    Just when I thought Queerty was getting a little bit of understand about rights and why they are important for everyone, they go and disown it.

  • Citizen

    What you seem to forget is that the owner of the photography business did not originally decline based on a specific reason just stated she couldn’t do the job. Ms. Willock pressed the issue and when the owner of the studio was honest and said that it went against her moral beliefs, Willock became upset and decided she would “tell” someone. This seems like a classic case of if I don’t get my way I’m going to get someone bigger than you to get my way for me. That’s what happened here and it’s a shame that because she didn’t like the answer she could legally force someone to go against their beliefs ….seems like the photographer is the one violated in this case. And for the love of mike, stop comparing this to the African-American experience. It is not the same.

Comments are closed.