Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Court: Christians cannot refuse to photograph same-sex ceremonies

August 23, 2013

In a 5-0 decision, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld a lower court determination that it is illegal for a photography business owned by Christians to refuse to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony--even though New Mexico law does not permit same-sex marriage.

The courts based their decisions on the text of the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA), which makes it illegal for “any person in any public accommodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services . . . to any person because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, spousal affiliation or physical or mental handicap.”

Referring to the business’s owners, Justice Richard Bosson said in his concurring opinion that the “Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation--photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony--than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.”

“All of which, I assume, is little comfort to the Huguenins, who now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” he continued. “Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

He added:

On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.


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  • Posted by: meor2day8658 - Aug. 25, 2013 9:50 PM ET USA

    Whats next? A pastor refuses to marry a same sex couple will be compelled by the courts to do so? Why is it those who have beleifs that are in conflict with Christiantiy get special protection from the courts? By this judges reasoning, God's Word will be the next target.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Aug. 25, 2013 2:08 PM ET USA

    If that's the price of citizenship in modern America, it makes me all the more an exiled citizen of Heaven. Viva Christo Rey!

  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Aug. 24, 2013 3:35 PM ET USA

    I suppose, in celebration of the "over-exposure" one usually sees at those gay pride parades, maybe the Huguenins could over-expose the pictures! That might be the last time they get hired to shoot one of those weddings!

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 24, 2013 3:32 PM ET USA

    When sin becomes enshrined as a right by the lawgivers, then the Catholic social order has come to an end. From the Communist Manifesto: "Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things...They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions." Humanist Manifesto II: "Traditional moral codes…cannot cope with existing world realities. They separate rather than unite."

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Aug. 24, 2013 8:42 AM ET USA

    If New Mexico law does not permit same-sex marriage, how are there any to photograph?

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - Aug. 24, 2013 1:12 AM ET USA

    " . . .this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise . . . " I believe St Thomas More might have something rather pithy to say in reply. And so would the authors of our Constitution, which the NMHRA ignores and subverts, and these judges are complicit. Impeachment is an integral part of our Constitution for a reason. We are fools and cowards not to make use of it.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 24, 2013 12:43 AM ET USA

    More nonsensical logic from the mind of a secular zealot. Unfortunately they seem to be in the majority these days. Since when does the constitution say that a person must act contrary to their religious beliefs because of a perceived conflict with a public good? Could not the plaintiff in this case have picked another photographer?

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Aug. 23, 2013 10:39 PM ET USA

    Again we hear the comparison with past refusals to serve African-Americans -- and it's as bogus as it always has been. Civil rights activists of the '60's said that despite a different skin color, an individual's underlying human nature was the same, and would express itself in the same behaviors as whites. But homosexual activists are saying that their different BEHAVIOR should merit equal treatment.

  • Posted by: kirrwed - Aug. 23, 2013 7:13 PM ET USA

    Additionally, based on this verdict, it would seem a buyer could force the seller to film whatever the buyer wanted, such as a sexual act, an act of bodily expulsion, an act of simulated violence against the seller's Church, etc... Based on the verdict ignoring the activity that the seller was asked to film, it would seem a seller could be forced to film anything technically legal. If so, something is terribly perverted here.

  • Posted by: kirrwed - Aug. 23, 2013 7:11 PM ET USA

    Couple thoughts. It does not appear to me that the seller refused business to the buyer on the basis of the buyer's sexual orientation. The seller refused because the buyer wanted the seller to participate in an activity that violated the seller's beliefs. If the buyer had been heterosexual and asked the buyer to film the same thing, I see no reason to think the seller would have acted differently.

  • Posted by: shrink - Aug. 23, 2013 6:32 PM ET USA

    Perhaps the photographers can imprint a small translucent signature cross/logo symbol of Christ on the front and the back of all prints and negatives. If the patrons don't like the logo, they can go somewhere else.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 23, 2013 6:13 PM ET USA

    I just hope none of these NM Supremes were "educated" in a Catholic college. What a pile of pseudo-intellectual compost.