Photographer Who Refused To Shoot Commitment Ceremony Cites Artistic Freedom

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 1.43.52 AMAn attorney for a photographer who refused to take photos of a same-sex commitment ceremony told the New Mexico Supreme Court she was simply expressing her right to free speech and artistic expression.

Elaine Huguenin is protected by the First Amendment, claims Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom, who says Huguenin shouldn’t have to violate her religious beliefs and promote something she is against.

Tobias Wolff, who is representing the lesbian couple Huguenin snubbed back in 2006, maintain that hers is a public business, and is therefore beholden to New Mexico’s anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation. “The nature of the discrimination claim is very straightforward,” Wolff told the AP.

The New Mexico Human Rights Commission initially found Huguenin in violation of the law and ordered her to pay $7,000. Last June, the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. At the time, Huguenin asked if an African-American photographer would be required to photograph a Ku Klux Klan rally. “The Ku Klux Klan is not a protected class,” the court noted. “Sexual orientation, however, is.

The high court has yet to issue a ruling in the case.

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  • Dakotahgeo

    These faux Christians are not going to learn except from the view of their pocketbooks being emptied! Fine of $7,000 per ruling against her and close her down!

  • Cam

    Her lawyer obviously failed Constitutional Law.

    Free Speech as expressed in the Constitution means that the govt. can’t arrest you for speaking out against it. Not that you get to apply for a public business license and then refuse to abide by the rules under which businesses operate because you happen to be a bigot.

  • JAW

    I wish we would just move on from these issues…

    Yes, I hate the fact that the bitch is anti-gay, is breaking the law and just a real ahole. But whenever these thing happen, The haters always win… Thy get a ton of free advertising that brings the far right out in droves to support them.

    There is an old saying in show biz… “bad press is better then no press at all” This proves it also.

    I would not want to use her as my wedding photog… Might end up with a lot of back of the heads and miss the important parts (like the first kiss). You can’t redo a wedding… it only happens once… why take a chance?

  • 2eo

    Elane Photography
    (505) 850-2313
    2912 Cuervo Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110
    Near Quigley Park

    Don’t be afraid to exercise your actual first amendment rights.

  • Tommysole

    If she didn’t want to photo a lesbian wedding she should not have to!
    Fine, she doesn’t want to do it, go to another photographer that WILL do it. Hell, they might have gotten better pics in the process.

  • gsingjane

    @Tommysole – are you against the idea of anti-discrimination laws in general, or as applied to lesbians and gays, or do you just not realize they apply here? It’s been decided, quite some time ago now, that the legislature has the ability to pass, and the state to enforce, laws that prohibit discrimination against certain classes of people. This is why, for example, a restaurant cannot refuse to serve someone just because he is African-American, or why a motel cannot refuse to rent a room for the night to someone just because she is Latina. As the article indicates, New Mexico has a law that prohibits discrimination against lesbian and gay people, and the business owner here was indisputably doing just that.

    I understand that some libertarians think we shouldn’t have anti-discrimination laws. They believe, I think, that “the market” will reward or punish discriminating businesses, and that owners should be free to serve, or not serve, whomever they wish.

    I also understand that some people are just opposed to including lesbians and gays in anti-discrimination laws. They don’t think that LGBT people need, or certainly deserve, legal protection of this kind.

    The bottom line here, though, is that NM does have an anti-discrimination law, and it was properly applied here.

  • Cam


    Actually that is wrong. They don’t win. Target lost business and backed down. Chik Fil Et had one great day and now not only are sales down but some of their franchises have had to close.

  • Cam

    @Tommysole: said…

    “If she didn’t want to photo a lesbian wedding she should not have to!
    Fine, she doesn’t want to do it, go to another photographer that WILL do it. Hell, they might have gotten better pics in the process.”

    So then are you saying that that business should also be allowed to discriminate against gay, black, or female employees?

    If somebody owned the only gas station in a town and decided they weren’t going to sell gas to ASians, and the closest other gas station was 50 miles away, you are basically making it impossible for Asians to live in that town.

    She wants a business license. She has to operate under the laws of businesses, and that includes non-discrimination. Stop being so eager to give away what gains we have been able to make.

  • gaym50ish

    If Elane were taking photos to hang in galleries she might legitimately claim “artistic freedom.” But she’s in business to serve the public. Chances are she has never turned down a straight couple for “artistic” reasons.

    We’ve known since the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1950s that private businesses that serve the public need to serve everyone equally. Those signs that say “We have the right to refuse service to anyone” are meaningless unless you’re a baartender and the customer is drunk or under age.

    Most anti-discrimination laws now include gays and lesbians as a protected class along with racial minorities, women and people of every religion.

  • queerty1958

    It is always a good idea when hiring a photographer, to ask if they work with all couple.

Comments are closed.