Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from NM Photographer Who Refused To Take Pictures Of Same-Sex Ceremony

Elaine-Huguenin-with-cameraThe week’s off to a bad start for the religious right.  The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from husband-and-wife photographers in New Mexico who claimed that they were exercising free speech when they refused to take pictures at lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. Right-wing activists had championed the case and used it as the basis for pushing “religious liberty” laws in multiple state legislatures, including Arizona.

Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin were approached by Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth to take pictures of the couple’s commitment ceremony in 2007. The Huguenins refused saying that to do so would “require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.” The state human rights commission ruled that the Huguenins violated nondiscrimination protections, a ruling upheld by the state Supreme Court.

In refusing to take up the appeal, the Supreme Court may be deferring to another case with similar overtones in which it just heard arguments. That case, involving the Hobby Lobby store chain, questions whether corporations can cite religious exemptions to refuse complying with laws.

The right wing had seized upon the Huguenins as emblematic of “the cost of being a Christian.” In this case, at least, the Supreme Court seems to agree that the cost involves following the law and paying the consequences for violating it.

Photo credit: Bruce Ellefson, Alliance Defending Freedom

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  • hyhybt

    First: the ad with the half face is really obnoxious on a phone; besides being much larger than the screen, it fights against being slid around even to see what it’s supposed to be, much less to close it.

    The right wing had seized upon the Huguenins as emblematic of “the cost of being a Christian.”
    In which case they need to account for how nondiscriminatory Christians aren’t paying it.

  • hyhybt

    Ah, it’s supposed to be a whole face and then some. All I got the first time was an eye and the side of a nose.

  • Cam

    Hmm, wonder what this means for the Hobby Lobby’s prospects

  • Stefano

    Oh no ! Not the gay mafia again !!! They are everywhere and they are trying to destroy our family values ! Oh sait…i’m not anti libéral…LOL

  • Tookietookie123

    Oh you feel like your rights are being taken away and that the majority of society despises you? Hmm, doesn’t that sound familiar. Finally ultra-religious homophobes are getting a taste of their own medicine.

  • Shofixti

    I am conflicted about this.

    If you are a professional whose work involves an artisan like skill (photographer, painter, singer, dancer, designer, stylist) that you perform outside your studio in an environment around your client – then you should be able to select between environments you decide are conducive to the practice of your craft.

    If you are an environmentalist – you should be able to decline to sing to the board of a fossil fuel company. If you are queer, you should be able to decline to do the make-up of a bigoted televangelist. Seems like the supreme court does not think so?

  • Daniepwils

    Shofixti I see your point. However what if this were an interracial couple wanting to get married? Would it be okay to invoke her religious beliefs and then be legal for her to discriminate (after all some believe that the bible states that interracial marriage is a sin as well)

    Everyone sins according to this bible (which is not the law of the land by the way). She as a woman should not have a job, her job is in the home according to the bible…

    Also where would this stop, could doctors refuse to treat a patient because they are gay?

  • Cam


    Let’s take your point out to it’s conclusion.

    There is a small town in Mississippi. One family owns the only gas station for 40 miles and they don’t serve blacks because they are Mormon and they believe the Pre-1978 Book.

    They have effectively prevented any blacks from living in that town if they need to drive.

    It is a public business, supported by public infrastructure paid for by everybody’s taxes.

    As for an environmentalist not wanting to sing before Exxon that is a totally different subject. Civil rights for Race, Gender, Orientation etc… are protected. Not wanting to work for Exxon is anybody’s right.

  • jar

    @Shofixti: If one provides photog services for weddings, s/he cannot refuse to do a wedding because the couple is gay because there is an anti-discrimination law at play. Your environmentalist example is not apposite because one can refuse to provide services for any reason that does not contravene the anti-discrimination law. You simply cannot refuse to provide the service because of the customer’s race, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation. These exceptions are recognized in the law because of the history of discrimination based upon these immutable characteristics.

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