Court Rules Against New Mexico Wedding Photographer for Same-Sex Discrimination

Court Rules Against New Mexico Wedding Photographer for Same-Sex Discrimination

Yesterday, wedding photographer Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography, LLC was ruled against by the New Mexico Supreme Court stating that she cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. This is a direct result of Vanessa Willock of Albuquerque filling a complaint on December 20, 2006  against Elaine. After inquiring to Elaine about photography for her September 21, 2006 wedding day, Vanessa received an email response back for her same-sex wedding that she was not what she expected.

Vanessa's initial response email inquiring about her wedding day, she received the following email back from Elaine.

"Hello Vanessa,

As a company, we photograph traditional weddings, engagements, seniors, and several other things such as political photographs and singer's portfolios.

-Elaine-"

Unsure if Elaine was saying that she does not provide same-sex wedding photography, she sent a response back.

"Hi Elaine,

Thanks for your response below of September 21, 2006. I'm a bit confused, however, by the wording of your response. Are you saying that your company does not offer your photography services to same-sex couples?

Thanks, 
Vanessa"

Elaine later responded,

"Hello Vanessa,

Sorry if our last response was a confusing one. Yes, you are connect in saying we do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our site! Have a great day.

-Elaine"

Elaine claimed to have denied the event due to her religious beliefs. But then, Vanessa had her then fiancée, Misti Collinsworth, contact Elaine and not mention it was a same-sex commitment ceremony.  She received a more than welcoming response back.

"Hello Misty,

Thanks so much for contacting us. I would definitely [sic] be willing to travel to Ruidoso for your wedding. I have attached some information that should be helpful as far as prices and packages. There is also another attachment concerning "print credits" - it explains what online proofing is, because it's something that is a bit newer and not everyone may know what it is yet. Hopefully these items will help you sort some things out. Also, I would love to meet up with you sometime, if you are interested, to show you more of my recent book, along with an example of the "coffee table book" that included in all of our packages. My place of choice is Satellite... Good luck with your planning, and I hope to talk with you soon!

-Elaine"

The initial complaint was investigated by the state's Human Rights Commission, in which they deemed the decision discriminatory. That decision was then upheld in June of 2012 by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. After that, it was appealed again by Elane Photography to the state supreme court claiming photography was an "expressive" medium therefor protection under the First Amendment was claimed. The ACLU stated on their website "that taking photographs for hire is a commercial service subject to commercial regulation.  A commercial business cannot solicit customers from the general public to buy its services as a photographer for hire and then claim that taking those photographs is a form of its own autonomous expressive activity."

After appeal after appeal by Elaine, The New Mexico Court of Appeals finally concluded that "a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the antidiscrimination provisions of the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples. Therefore, 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."

Although this was only a commitment ceremony, same-sex marriage was not legal at the time of the inquiry, nor at any time during the initial decisions. Santa Fe started issuing same-sex marraige licenses on April 24, 2013. The final decision in the case came yesterday, which also happens to be the same day that the same-sex marraiges will now be issued marraige licenses in Doña Ana County. The county clerk, Lynn Ellins, expressed "After careful review of New Mexico's laws it is clear that the state's marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act." Upon searching for any websites still linked to a possible business for Elane Photography a sister website was started by Tom Alciere in response to the trial.

[via TOWLEROAD]

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James Brown's picture

I probably shouldn't reply, but perhaps this will help, maybe not. The interesting thing about the history of black equality is that government laws made it more difficult for people to be equal. Marriage licenses, minimum wage laws, jim crow laws, and many other restrictive regulations imposed through government force worked to keep the black population segregated. And it is still happening with subsidies and compulsory schooling. In fact, the bus companies in your example didn't want to force the blacks to the back of the bus because they were their main customer base.

I think it would be absolutely wonderful if there were no giant gang of thugs that went around extorting people of their productive abilities and income, waging massively destructive wars (which wars can only be destructive), and propagandizing and pillaging the future of humanity.

No I don't think everyone will just do the right thing. But not having a government, does not mean not having rules. Anarchy means not having rulers. Lets get rid of the monopoly that is granted to government and let the free market work it's magic. We'll actually have protection and security, and healthcare, and all of the other things that people want, cheaper and more efficient than you could ever have under government. Force does not equal freedom.

Tommy S's picture

Sounds like you're a social Darwinist. "Let's get rid of the government and cops and let nature fight it out. The wealthiest and strongest will rule. The wealthy and strong will have security, protection, health care, and all they want. It'll be cheaper for the strong and wealthy because they don't have to worry about the poor (those lazy leeches that are always looking for a free handout from us hard workers). Let the wealthy and strong work their magic and make slaves of everyone. Let's get rid of all these rules, regulations, and equality bullshit."

James Brown's picture

As I thought, replying was futile. I can only say seek truth through knowledge, reason, and objectivity. You've failed to even address my first assertion that the initiation of force is immoral. It doesn't matter what perceived consequences you come up with to say that a stateless society won't work. Because to do so is to admit that immorality is okay if people acting under a concept called government are the ones initiating force. These people are no different fundamentally from any other person. They do not have any special grant of privilege to allow them to be moral and initiate force at the same time. It's one or the other.

Please look into Austrian economics, ethics, and philosophy. Your skepticism is typical of most people that have been propagandized their entire lives. Government does not create equality. Force does not create equality. Immorality does not create equality. Freedom and voluntary action creates equality.

Tommy S's picture

You seem to think as if I've never heard the conservative's talking point before. Regurgitating Rush Limbaugh's or Ann Coulter's talking points don't make you look like a philosopher or a thinker. To assume that I'm ignorant on the topic of philosophy might be a mistake.

We live in a democracy where majority rules. I totally understand that it doesn't seem fair to be in the top 1%-10%. I mean you guys have it so rough. It is so immoral to compel the few (that have more than enough) to give more to benefit the many.

But you know what? You can have your Austrian ethics and philosophy. And I'll stick with Spock's philosophy... “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.”

Is it immoral to compel the few that have more than enough to give to the many so the many can can survive? You say compulsion is immoral, but I say that the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few.

And trying to appear intelligent only works with the ignorant. You have to prove your intelligence and not just sound smart.

TA's picture

Tommy. You failed to deal with what is in black & white on the page before you. You have no idea what he(James) thinks of YOU and what you know. He is sharing his ideas on what he thinks will work. Do you claim to have all the answers ? No ? good. Do some research then. For yourself. Not Rush or Ann's viewpoint, but yours too.

TA's picture

Well said

Larry Clay's picture

My thoughts exactly James. This country is really going down hill fast and this crap coming out of New Mexico is adding fuel to the collectivist fire. Today I am ashamed of being a New Mexican.

S Wade's picture

Why is someone automatically a bigot because they don't support gay marriage?

James Brown's picture

Well, I never actually called anyone a bigot. I said who cares if someone is a bigot. However, I do think the label applies by definition. Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

S Wade's picture

By that definition (minus the hatred on both sides) this same-sex couple are bigots for being intolerant of this woman's beliefe and going so far as to take legal action against them for because of it. Is that not also bigotry? And if you think about it, everyone is a bigot about one thing or another.

Jason Armond's picture

I know some small business owners that think just because
you own your own business you can do whatever you want to do. This is not the
case. When providing a service to the
general public, there are certain rules you have to follow. You may or may not
agree with the rules but you have to follow them. These rules and regulations
are to protect basic civil rights among lots of other things. There was a time
when African Americans had to set in the back of the bus. Or eat in the back of restaurants and drink
out of Black Only water fountains. There were laws passed preventing these
actions from taking place now. Until
this year Augusta National Golf course did not accept women members. The key thing is Augusta National is a
PRIVATE Golf Club. They have the right
to admit who they want. Public businesses do not have this right. A lot of small business owners are learning
the hard way about discrimination against gays. Most small business owners do
not have legal teams on staff telling them that they can be sued for discrimination
for their actions. You don’t hear these
types of things happening as much with large corporations. You are starting to hear
it all the time with small mom and pop small businesses, especially in the
wedding industry. Most of these owners want to make a point that they are against
the gay lifestyle. When all they had to
do is treat the potential client like any other potential client. For photographers during the booking process
if you are candid and honest with your client there will be a time for you to
tell them why you may not be a good fit for them. There is a way to do it without discriminating.
Then live the ball in their court. As
for venues, cake, dress ect… It is a lot harder to explain why they may not be
a good fit for their business without discriminating against the gay couple. Public vs Private

Vineet Rajasekhar's picture

Hi, off topic question - but I'm curious about the use of the [sic] when quoting Elaine's second response - after the word "definitely". What was the mistake that was being quoted verbatim?

Graham Marley's picture

I don't think making up an excuse to avoid doing the job is a great business practice, because as the article points out, the couple sent another inquiry under false pretenses and could have caught Elaine in a lie if she had said "Oh I'm just not available on that date" or something similar. If Elaine is basing her business decisions on her moral principals, I don't see the value in a lie, which would also probably be against her moral principals.

I would be honest and appeal to the couple's need for someone who would be a good fit for their event. She should have given a frank, but polite and compassionate statement like "I will do this if you want me to, but only because I am required to by law, and not because I think I can perform up to your expectations. It is my professional opinion that you would be served better by someone else, but the decision is yours." I think everyone would be able to find a way to meet their needs in that case.

Personally, I think this is extensively murky on the legal end. Is Elaine discriminating against PEOPLE or an ACT? It would be one thing if Elaine just said "I do not take pictures of gay people." I think the fact that Elaine is specifically saying that she does not take pictures of certain people DOING a certain ACTION is a very different animal.

Dan S's picture

Very well said Graham. I completely agree with you about how she should have handled it. I commented elsewhere about how the same-sex couple shouldn't *want* Elaine to shoot their wedding because her heart wouldn't be in it.

PSLinden's picture

But Elaine isn't discriminating against an action (getting married). Rather, she's discriminating on the basis of the genders and sexual orientation of the people involved in the action. Or to paraphrase what you said, "Elaine is specifically saying that she does not take pictures OF CERTAIN PEOPLE doing a certain action…"

Graham Marley's picture

I disagree completely. My operator was "Elaine taking pictures of." Let me expand on that point. In so far as wedding photography is concerned, I don't see how you can divorce photographic work at a wedding from *participating* in the wedding: You're influencing and guiding portions of the day, and using art to celebrate what's going on at the wedding. Elaine's beliefs make her a certain kind of person, religion is absolutely an identity factor, especially in discrimination cases, and she acted according to that factor. Her, presumably, religious beliefs made it so that she could not in good conscience participate in a certain act. The law/state can absolutely grant equal rights to gay couples as far as the social contract of marriage is concerned. The state in no way can dictate the moral value of those rights, that is entirely up to the individual. The various factors of any given act, including types of participants of the act, is absolutely relevant to any individual assignment of moral value. To suggest otherwise is preposterous. Moral values inherently run into religious preference, and religious preference is a protected right.

Now, by your logic, if it has to be such that Elaine was specifically targeting gay people for discrimination on the basis of their identity, and not the isolated action of a wedding, then the lawsuit did not target Elaine's choice to not participate in an act that she disagreed with on a moral basis, but ELAINE herself was the target by virtue of having those beliefs in the first place, which is retributive discrimination. Following the implications of what you said about what Elaine's choices have to have been, the couple's choice to sue her was motivated specifically by Elaine being an orthodox Jew, Muslim or Christian, as opposed to making a motivated choice. Therefore, the state has made it illegal to practice religious beliefs (or by your definition, be who they are) within a certain industry, which is not only blatantly discriminatory, but also insanely dangerous.

PSLinden's picture

She's documenting the event, not performing the marriage or signing a marriage certificate. She doesn't need to change or alter her beliefs one iota to photograph a same-sex ceremony (though I might suggest that she should heed more carefully her faith's admonitions against treating sinners poorly). Again, one doesn't need to affirm or support what one is photographing to connect with one's subjects on a human level, to provide basic advice on posing and scheduling, to take quality pictures, or to employ one's artistic talents in processing those images. If that were the case, who could perform compelling work as documentary photographers on challenging and controversial subjects (war, crime, drugs, etc.)?

The inability to step away from one's personal feelings and beliefs on a topic and carry out a task strikes me as very unprofessional attitude. As I see it, being a professional means doing everything I can to provide the same level of service to every client, regardless of my own personal feelings about each client. It's the same standard of conduct I expect from my doctor, lawyer, dry cleaner, or grocer. I should receive the same service from those professionals regardless of my race, religion, or orientation. Why should photographers get a pass? Even if it is Elaine's belief that performing this service would be a violation of her faith, then perhaps she needs to consider the more fundamental question of whether her faith, her current employment, and the laws of the state she works in are compatible, or whether she needs to find a different way to find income through her photography or find somewhere to work that is more compatible with her personal beliefs.

Ultimately, the market will likely have more of an practical impact upon such issues than the isolated legal complaint against an isolated photographer. The wedding market is primarily composed of young couples, and that demographic is becoming increasingly sensitive about retaining vendors (and venues) that have acquired a reputation for discriminating against potential customers on the basis of sexual orientation. Those who choose to engage in such discrimination are running a real risk of being edged out of the market.

S Wade's picture

Pastors can be sued for denying to marry someone at a wedding. What then?

TA's picture

Not in Maryland.

Dan S's picture

PSLinden, I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph. The market will weed out businesses that are objectionably discriminatory. Why should the government step in yet again, making themselves bigger and bigger, to make decisions for us? Let the lack of customers put discriminatory businesses out of business.

The rest of your comment, though, I disagree with. You state that you expect to not be discriminated against at the doctor, lawyer, dry cleaner, etc. But what if you were? What if you walked into a grocery store and they told you to leave because you're white or overweight or whatever. What's the next step? Find a different grocery store and tell everyone you know that ABC Grocery discriminated against you for ridiculous reasons. Pretty soon, ABC Grocery will be avoided by not only those they discriminate against, but by those that are acceptable as well because they don't want to patronize such a business. I bet ABC Grocery won't be in business for long, and XYZ Grocery will grow by leaps and bounds because they accept everyone equally.

It just seems that every time anyone who's considered a minority complains about something, the government jumps in to save them and makes something else illegal. I just have to wonder that if the government would back out and let the public decide who stays in business and who doesn't, this could be a much less discriminatory society because the bad apples would be naturally weeded out.

Stuart's picture

i feel doing a wedding shoot is a commercial decision and each photographer makes these choices based on what they do, i won't do wedding but i will do events specifically cycling events, would these choices be ruled against by organisation running non cycling events eg athletics, motor sports etc. the choice not to shoot same sex commitments is something that should not have gone to court as i'm sure other photographers would fill the gap and some may specialise in such. and those that specialise in such and don't take traditional weddings on are discriminating against traditional marriage. wonder how well that would do in court?

TA's picture

Wow. Photographers !!!! Wake up ! The ACLU stated that offering photographs commercially is subjected to commercial regulation ??? How dumb is THAT ???!!!? The best images come when we are connected to the event and can anticipate the priceless moments. If your heart is sour because of your personal beliefs, then you are no good to those clients. Hands down ! This was not a strike at same sex couples across America. If you take your Audi to a Ford specialist and get mad because he says he won't work on it, do you take him to court ?

Eduardo Cervantes's picture

Obesity in 98% of cases is a personal choice. I'd rather be surrounded by slim people. It helps me stay slim plus its easier on my eyes and I don't have to feel sorry for them. Am I vain? Should I be punished for exercising this personal choice of lifestyle? It's ok if gay people want to get married. But it's plain wrong for them to push their kind of lifestyle on other people. Years ago during his show, a brazilian comedian commented about all the achievements obtained for issues about sex orientation and rights in his country for all the past recent years. "Great progress but if it becomes mandatory. I'm fleeting this country".

Harnav Bir Singh's picture

This is bullshit. Forget about beliefs/religions or any other reason. What if someone is "just not interested"?

As a professional this is indeed chilling for me. I am not against LGBT or anyone. I just feel so sorry for the photographer whose freedom of choice was not respected.

Wedding photographers always have an emotional perspective towards covering wedding ceremonies or say, just posing the couple. When its a same sex marriage , what if the photographer is just not comfortable with the idea in their head? This is astonishing!

TheAngryFag's picture

Keep in mind... Elaine Photography admitted it was a discriminatory reason to the potential client.

Adam T's picture

Moral of the story: If you provide a service open to the public but deny said service because of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation you are subjecting someone to discrimination. The proper thing for the photographer to say in this situation is this:

"Hello ____ I can shoot your ____ but I'm not experienced in that type of situation and might not be able to give you the best quality, I know ______ has done similar situations, you may want to try them, if not I will schedule a conference call with you at a later date"

This is the same line I said when I was asked to a photo a young beauty paginate. The discriminatory way of saying the same thing.

"Oh i don't feel comfortable doing that, my believes won't allow for if because I think it's icky and your daughter is creepy looking."

In the end people wont want to buy or make others complete a service, especially an art service of characterizing them in a special setting, if they fell the quality of the product might be in jeopardy. On the other hand you cant just say no to someone because you feel uncomfortable and make the client feel discriminated

S Wade's picture

You are the first person to actually give a good alternative for her answer that isn't lying about being booked.

TheAngryFag's picture

A lot of the commentators do not seem to get it. So let's break it down for you:

First the issue of the "offering photographs commercially is subjected to commercial regulation". This is true. Once you cross the threshold into the professional realm you are subject to a whole set of rules and regulations at local, state, and federal levels. And you must abide by them regardless of your personal beliefs. This means serving clients/customers you might normally avoid. And it is your job to know those laws. Don't like it? Tough. Don't go pro or move to a country like Saudi Arabia. It's the cost of doing business.

Second, some folks are trying to confuse the issue of equality and bring in the "special rights" or "superiority" thing. Apparently some folks do not actually know what "equal" means so I will quote it for you from Merriam-Webster: "regarding or affecting all objects in the same way" This means that Elaine Photography would treat a two men, two women, or a man and a woman the same in terms of a wedding shoot. This was proven not to be the case as both by Elaine's admission in the clarification e-mail and the subsequent e-mail sent by the second woman omitting the same-sex aspect of the job. Therefore Elaine Photography does not treat everyone equal as prescribed by the law. Period.

Now let's move onto the "Photographer's Rights" argument. As stated above, she willingly went into business and therefore she surrenders some of her rights, again willingly, when she chose to do so. This is much in the same way members of the US Military are subject to certain rules and restrictions when they willingly enlist. For example if you cheat on your spouse as a civilian at worst you go through a messy divorce but as a member of the military you are subject to criminal prosecution. So when she hung the sign on her door to go into business, the rights folks are decrying the loss of Elaine's "rights" are decrying the loss of something she willingly surrendered. Again if you do not like it, do not go into business.

Finally, the "brand protection" aspect. Michael Populus mentions he generally works with female clientele of a certain type because of his business type. He would never be subject to a discrimination against men complaint because he does not offer the service to men. It would be like a woman walking into S&K Menswear or The Men's Warehouse (both of which are niche stores that sell men's business suits) and claiming discrimination because they don't sell dresses. The business is defined as a men's clothing. But Elaine's business is photographing weddings which, with or without state approval, is not subject to such a restriction and therefore she was discriminatory.

The problem for Elaine was that she decided to put herself on a cross and go play martyr. The fact her attorney was provided by the Alliance Defense Fund (Now known as the Alliance Defending "Freedom") which is linked to hate-groups shows me this. If she truly was uncomfortable or whatever, she should have been upfront about it and offered to help the couple find an alternative photographer. She could have even lied and said she was booked that day, had an out-of-town engagement, etc. and no one would be the wiser.

Brandon Freitag's picture

"Hate-groups". In other terms, groups which are guilty of "hate speech" which is a legally punishable offense. The implication being that these hate-groups (those who disagree with the LGBT position) aren't entitled to protection under the 1st amendment and should be silent.

So you promote equality for some, but not for others? Sounds like superiority or special rights to me.

TheAngryFag's picture

CoolFriday: I think you have the United States confused with other countries like Canada. Hate Speech is not illegal in the US. Therefore by that very fact they do have 1st Amendment protection provided their speech does not fall into the well-defined exceptions.

Second Hate Groups, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are groups "having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." Groups like the American Family Association end up on SPLC's list for things like advocating children of same-sex couple be kidnapped via a system similar to the Underground Railroad during the days of slavery.

And quit being melodramatic with the "equality for some, but not for others" statement. First and foremost, what did I say happens when you go into business? You *willingly surrender* certain rights and agree to abide by certain laws. And if we follow your logic to the end, you just justified Islamic terrorism because they're entitled to convert you or kill you.

Brandon Freitag's picture

You simply stated that equality, by definition, was "regarding or affecting all objects in the same way" and held this up as the standard by which to measure things. However, you won't adhere to your own definition. Invoking the term "hate group" clearly demonstrates that you don't view differing opinions as worth equal treatment. Your remark in other posts disparaging someone's perceived religious affiliation betrays your own bias. By citing Islamic terrorism as an example, you are trying to bolster your claim that your position is superior and enforce that other viewpoints are inferior. If we follow your logic, the LGBT viewpoint should define legal and moral standards and those with dissenting opinions should be disparaged, silenced or punished.

TheAngryFag's picture

You seem to be really fond of projection. Using a term to describe a group of people who hate me based on how I was born and actively campaigns to keep me a second class citizen does not create inequality. Sorry to burst that bubble for you.

And no, the Islamic terrorist citation is just the next progression. Because if a person's religion trumps everything else in the name of "personal rights" then Islamic terrorists have the right to convert or kill you. Otherwise you are declaring their religion to be "inferior" and yours to be "superior" to use your terms.

And I do not think these organizations should be "punished" I believe in the rule of law. Elaine Photography broke the law pure and simple and no matter what sophistry you or any of her supporters come up with does not negate that fact and I am sure Justice Sotomayer will agree if/when she denies certiori on ADF's potential appeal of the matter.

And it is interesting that you are waiving the banner of oppression when you are not actually oppressed as a heterosexual. Prior to Goodrich v Department of Public Health you could marry anyone you wanted be it your high school sweetheart or someone you met in a haze of alcohol in Vegas. You were never in danger of losing your job or your home because you were heterosexual. You would never be chosen to be beaten up and left for dead or actually killed because you are heterosexual. And guess what? After marriage equality comes to all 50 states and non-discrimination laws are unified to include homosexuals,bisexuals, and transgendered people you STILL will be in no danger of having those things happen to you and your marriage will be still intact.

So now I bid you adieu and may you have a safe trip back to Zandalar.

Brandon Freitag's picture

Over and over, you make conflicting statements while hiding behind the words "equality" and "law". You state "I believe in the rule of law" but go on to say "After marriage equality comes to all 50 states and non-discrimination laws are unified to include homosexuals,bisexuals, and transgendered people ..." and also "...I am sure Justice Sotomayer will agree.." So you aren't for the law in some places, but are in others? Or you are for the law as it will be after LGBT activism changes it?

TheAngryFag's picture

So I guess you support racial segregation

Tommy S's picture

Well said.

Basil Malik's picture

...Actually this whole issue, denial of service, discrimination is not as big a deal as we are harping on. Being an African American, there are many laws on the books to protect or give equal footing in hiring for example. Yet, discrimination exist just by simply reading the name on the resume and chucking it or if you're lucky enough to get an interview you may not get the job even if you're qualified. The reason why if stated is never because "you are black and we don't hire blacks. The point, in these situations you are never given a reason verbally and especially not written that can be construed as discriminatory. As a photographer you can deny anyone service you choose as long as your reason is not protected by anti discrimination laws. The photographer made a mistake of stating her position because (i am sure) in 2006, she felt her position was accepted and protected by the majority and by extension the law. How foolish. And how quickly tides change.

Nathaniel Wynans's picture

I feel bad for the photographer, she shouldn't have to photograph something she deosnt agree with or that makes her feel uncomfortable. Just because your gay doesn't mean the whole world has to bow to you.

pacocho69's picture

Just because you are catholic, christian, muslim....doesn't mean the whole world has to bow you. So, don't discriminate people and don't break the law. It's quite simple.

Larry Clay's picture

I am an artiest and I would not shoot a same sex ceremony as I find it morally repugnant. Having said that I would gladly fight and die for their right to have such a ceremony.

Filip Suciu's picture

So let me get this straight. I can turn you down because you're ugly but not because you're gay...

pacocho69's picture

So let me get this straight. I can turn you down because you're a moron but not because you're a ymca.

Istvan Lantos's picture

As a photographer, sometimes everyone "steps out" from a "red flag client" job. Did anyone thought, maybe this photographer felt she can't shoot properly a same-sex event, so she wasn't /just/ racist!? Well, honestly, photographing gay marriage on the first time can be felt awkward for the photographer and it can be shown on the final work also (on location portrait posing?). As a straight man, even I don't know how I can handle similar situation in the future!? Honestly, she did the right thing when she felt the same. After all, all of us protecting our businesses. We know what our limits are, and definitely not the international equal rights organizations.

Now she will got penalty and political education, because of her business policy... MOST OF YOU also can go to court, when you didn't wanted to shoot (e.g.) a fatty wedding... Just think about that when you speak about "equal rights"...

"You see the string in other's eyes, but you not see the timber in yours."

Hudson's picture

Personally, I photograph everything and anything when it comes to people, no matter what their personal lives entail, but I firmly believe a photographer should have the right not to photograph something they personally don't believe in, this ruling is absurd. These points of view go both ways what a closed minded discussion. What's ironic is the one-sidedness of this entire ruling. What's next?!

Hudson's picture

Not to mention to the client there are 1000's of other photographers who would gladly shoot their event. Move on and let it go, find someone who is the right photog for you and make that happen.

Andrew Williams's picture

It's wrong to discriminate but at the same time it's her business and the court should have no say in how it's operated.

Dan S's picture

Drew, you say it's wrong to discriminate, but everyone does. What if in the middle of the night you had two paths to walk to get home. One path had a couple of guys dressed in shorts and t-shirts talking with each other and the other had a couple of guys dressed like thugs standing around. You would clearly take the shorts and t-shirt path. Are you discriminating against the guys dressed like thugs? Sure. It's a stereotype that guys dressed like thugs are more likely to be dangerous. You had no other evidence as to the danger level other than what how they looked, but made a decision based on a stereotype. That's discrimination. We ALL do it.

Now comparing a personal safety decision to choosing against shooting a gay wedding are totally different things. But I'm just making the point that not all discrimination is bad and everyone does it.

Vadim Rybin's picture

The world clearly has gone mad with political correctness and discrimination issues!
Sometimes I think I'm lucky to live in Ukraine, where some of these very tricky matters are not so scrupulously regulated by the state. We can still call things what they are and not be immediately sued for that. Well, we also still got bears walking our streets and a president with an IQ of a 7year-old...
I guess, it takes time - a few generations - to change mentality. Our grandchildren might be totally fine with photographing a gay (or is only "same-sex" acceptable?) marriage, because they will have lived a life without even thinking that there is something wrong with gay people or that their love is any different. Gay kids won't be picked on at schools by heterosexual kids - and not because it's discrimination and doing so can get you in trouble with the law - but just because there will be no reason for it. The LGBT community will gradually blend in and assimilate - and the period when they're constantly in their period will be over. There will be no one to fight (not that heterosexuals will be driven to extinction).
That takes time and requires strict laws, I guess...
But when I realize that a state court might force me into photographing a client I don't like (for any reason), someone I am unable to form an intimate connection with - which is crucial for me in order to take good pictures - that makes me feel very frustrated. That is very far from the definition of "personal freedom" in my head.
The funny thing is that due to the anti-discrimination laws, certain groups of people (please, don't look for racism or sexism here) are getting more priviledged, and not based on their skills, experience or just being a good person - but simply because they were born this way.
And yet - these people are not in any way impaired, and - in my opinion - should have the same rights as others. Which also means that refusing to provide a such a personal art service as is photography to a black gay woman should be just as easy as turning down a heterosexual white male.
I have friends who are gay - hey, one of my favorite teachers at school was gay! - but to me they are not any better or worse than others, until they start bragging about their uniqueness.

Being gay does not make a person more unique or valuable to society. Yet, it's trendy to be proud that you're gay. While "I'm proud of being straight!" sounds a bit sexist and discriminative in your head, doesn't it?
I wish that couple had spent more time looking for a photographer that was really good at photographing same-sex marriages, with a solid portfolio that showed his/her connection with the couples. Someone who could truly enjoy being there and capturing the moments. But that clearly wasn't their intention.

Bottom line - as a photographer living and working in Ukraine, I am soooo happy not to be OBLIGATED to watch or photograph two kissing men. Two ladies in white, exploring each other's oral cavities - hey, where do I sign? :)

Charles Putnam,'s picture

This decision trounces two fundamental areas of the Bill of Rights - the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Tommy S's picture

Should I be able to use my freedom of religion to deny you your civil rights? You can believe what you want or say what you want (Here in the U.S. anyway), but when your beliefs or words affect the freedom and rights of others, whose rights and freedom should take precedence?

Larry Clay's picture

In this case no freedoms or rights were effected. The only way you can deny someone's freedom or rights is through the use of force. No force was applied here against the same sex couple, but force was applied against the photographer so her rights were abridged.

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