Anti-Discrimination Laws Against Wedding Photographers Doesn’t Work

A Christian photographer lost a civil lawsuit after she refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.

In the case between Elane Photography and Willock, a Supreme Court judge ruled that the photographer violated the NMHRA when it would not photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. While marriage is still not considered legal in the state of New Mexico, the court document repeatedly referred to it as a marriage ceremony.

Elane Photographer argued that it did not violate NMHRA, because it would have went against the federal Free Speech and Free Exercise rights included in the First Amendment. However, the court disagreed saying:

“When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races”.

Just recently in Oregon, Sweet Cakes Bakery announced that it was closing its doors and going out of business citing its opposition to baking wedding cakes for same sex couples.

The New Mexico Supreme Court rejected Elane Photography’s argument that, because photography is an expressive endeavor, it ought to be exempt from the state laws prohibiting public accommodations from denying service on the basis of a customer’s membership in a protected class.

The court document read that photography is a public accommodation and its provision of services can be regulated, even though those services include artistic and creative work. If Elane Photography had took pictures on its own time using its own resources and sold those photos to a gallery, or if it was hired by certain clients but did not offer its services to the general public, the law would not apply to Elane Photography.

The difference is that the photographs were allegedly compelled by the NMHRA and Elane Photography produces for hire in the ordinary course that related to public accommodation.


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