Friday, August 23, 2013

New Mexico Supreme Court: Photographer Cannot Deny Services to Gay Couples

In a unanimous - and completely common sense - opinion, the New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that a photographer (and by extension, any business that offers services to the general public) cannot refuse to provide goods or services to same sex couples citing "religious belief."  If one is going to market to the public, then one has to provides goods and services to ALL of the public, gays included.  Not surprisingly, the Christofascists who see themselves above the laws governing others are apoplectic that they cannot discriminate at will against those they don't like and screaming that they are being persecuted.  In truth - as is increasingly the case, it is they who are the ones persecuting others.  Metro Weekly looks at the important ruling.  Here are highlights

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision Thursday that a wedding photographer who refused to provide services to a same-sex couple violated the state's Human Rights Act.

"[W]e conclude 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," the state's highest court ruled. "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."

The ruling comes in the case of Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock, which was filed after Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, turned away Vanessa Willock and her partner in 2006 on the grounds that photographing the ceremony would violate her religious beliefs.
An investigation by the state Human Rights Commission that found the company was guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation was upheld by the New Mexico Court of Appeals in June of 2012.

In its decision today, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state's Human Rights Act, which was amended in 2003 to add "sexual orientation" as a class of people protected from discrimination, does not violate free speech because it does not compel the photographer to either "speak a government-mandated message or to publish the speech of another."

"The purpose of the NMHRA is to ensure that businesses offering services to the general public do not discriminate against protected classes of people, and the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that the First Amendment permits such regulation by states," the decision states. "Businesses that choose to be public accommodations must comply with the NMHRA, although such businesses retain their First Amendment rights to express their religious or political beliefs.
Illustrative of the bullshit coming from the Christofascist is the rant by Bryan Fischer of the hate group, American Family Association, who says the ruling is tantamount to the Jim Crow laws and that Christians are the "new blacks."  Right Wing Watch reports on Fischer's disingenuous screed:

Bryan Fischer is incensed at the New Mexico Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that a wedding photography business violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing its services to a same-sex couple. The American Family Association spokesman called on the business, and others, to file countersuits and “fight fire with fire” by alleging that preventing them from discriminating against customers is religious discrimination.

“Essentially what this court has done and what the Obama administration has done with this abortifacient mandate is that they have turned Christians into Dred Scott,” Fischer claimed, arguing that the New Mexico court “said that Christians have no rights which this court is bound to respect. So to me this looks like Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.”
Hate, bigotry, selfishness and, of course endless lies, are the hallmarks of conservative Christians.  Kudos to the New Mexico Supreme Court for making it clear that these vile people are not above the law.

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