Main | Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christianists To Appeal New Mexico Wedding Photographer Case

In 2008 a wedding photographer in New Mexico was fined under the state's sexual orientation discrimination laws for refusing to accept a same-sex couple as clients. The case has been used by the Christianists in virtually every battle for LGBT rights as a glaring example of "homofascists" using newly-won rights to throttle people of faith. Today the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund announced that they are launching an appeal of the photographer's conviction.
"Christians in the marketplace should not be subject to predatory legal attacks for simply abiding by their beliefs," said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. "The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling artists to promote a message they disagree with and thereby violate their conscience. "Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy? American small business owners do not surrender their constitutional rights at the marketplace gate, nor can the government make people choose between their faith and their livelihood." "The commission's decision demonstrated striking disregard for our client's rights as protected by the First Amendment. We will appeal the trial court's decision to the New Mexico Court of Appeals," Lorence said. In 2006, Vanessa Willock asked Elaine Huguenin, co-owner with her husband, Jon Huguenin, of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, to photograph a "commitment ceremony" that Willock and another woman wanted to hold in Taos. Neither marriage nor civil unions are legal between members of the same sex in New Mexico.

Elaine Huguenin declined because her and her husband's Christian beliefs are in conflict with the message communicated by the ceremony. Willock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, accusing Elane Photography of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The commission held a one-day trial and then issued an order in April 2008 finding that Elane Photography engaged in "sexual orientation" discrimination prohibited under state law, ordering it to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys' fees to Willock.
For the last two years, the Holy Triad of Christian Oppression has been the New Mexico photographer case, the Ocean Grove, New Jersey wedding pavilion case, and the case of the Canadian minister fined for hate speech after publishing an anti-gay letter in a local newspaper. Two weeks ago Canadian minister's case was reversed on appeal, but American Talibangelists continue to use it in all of their hate materials.

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