An Albuquerque photographer refused to take photographs of a gay wedding ceremony in 2006, explaining that she only shoots “traditional weddings.” Seven and a half years later, the Supreme Court will decide whether it is constitutional to opt out of photographing same-sex weddings, The Huffington Post reported Thursday.
Elane photography co-owner Elaine Huguenin shocked bride-to-be Vanessa Willock by confirming, “Yes, you are correct in saying we do not photograph same-sex weddings” in an email. “The photography case is viewed through the lens of same-sex marriage, but it also pits two constitutional rights against each other: freedom of speech and equal protection,”The Huffington Post explains. Willock also filed a complaint with the state of New Mexico, stating that Elane Photography violated state anti-discrimination laws. Huguenin initially opposed the motions on grounds of religious beliefs. For the Supreme Court ruling, Huguenin is “focusing solely on free speech — in this case, the freedom not to photograph same-sex ceremonies,” The Huffington Post adds.
Willock’s attorney, Tobias Barrington Wolff, upholds his point of view that Huguenin’s objections, and others like it, violate the Constitution. “All are protected from laws that target the expressive content of their goods and services, but none has a constitutional right to play by a different set of rules in the public marketplace,” Wolff argues. The Washington Post echos that sentiment in an opinion column: “Photographers whose religious beliefs prevent them from working with all types of weddings should not be selling their services as wedding photographers. If you offer a commercial service, you have to be willing to provide that service to everyone.”
Denying services based on religious beliefs is not unprecedented. A Washington state florist, bakeries in Colorado and Oregon, and at least one venue in New Jersey have all refused services to same-sex couples on their wedding day.
“We’ve come a long way in this country over the past several decades,” explains Fred Tilner, Manager and Marketing Director of 42nd Street Photo. “Certain rights and privileges we take for granted today did not come easily. However, it is very difficult to legislate conscience or morality and even more difficult to enforce it through judicial decree. It is hard for me to imagine a couple wanting to work with a photographer who does not want to work with them because of their lifestyle choices.”