Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NM Religious Extremists Petition SCOTUS To Allow Anti-Gay Discrimination

The high profile case of a New Mexico wedding photographer who refused to take the job when they learned that it involved a same-sex commitment ceremony and was then successfully sued under that state's anti-discrimination law is now before the United States Supreme Court. The case, named Elane Photography v. Willock, is being handled by the notorious heterosexual supremacist organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who have filed a writ of certiorari before the nation's highest court with a novel idea: the photographer's first amendment rights of free expression are being violated by the New Mexico statute.

SCOTUSblog discusses the case:
On the premise that taking photos is a form of story-telling — recall the old idea about how many words a picture is worth — an Albuquerque studio on Friday asked the Supreme Court to protect its owners from having to send the message that the uniting of same-sex couples in marriage-like ceremonies is acceptable.
The new case of Elane Photography v. Willock does not ask the Court to rule on any right of gays and lesbians to marry, but it does seek a decision on how far a state may go to protect same-sex couples from discrimination in the marketplace.  The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in August that the studio violated a state anti-discrimination law by turning away a request to take photos of a same-sex commitment ceremony.
As more legislatures — including Congress — pass or at least consider bills to outlaw discrimination against homosexuals, the spread of marriage or civil unions among gays and lesbians is now raising more issues about how those laws apply to such relationships.  The Elane Photography case could help provide an answer.
The owners of the Albuquerque studio — Elaine Huguenin and her husband John Huguenin — told the Court that they “object as a matter of conscience to creating pictures or books that will tell stories or convey messages contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs.” Among their beliefs, they said, is that marriage “is the union of a man and a woman.”
The boundaries of where religious freedom ends and anti-gay discrimination begins is the next frontier in the battle over LGBT equality. This photography case has been a cause célèbre among religious extremists and heterosexual supremacists who oppose marriage equality; they make the claim that allowing marriage equality without an exemption for religious people to not participate in providing services or recognizing marriages that they object to tramples their religious freedom. Funny how they don't make that same claim about interracial marriage now even though there was significant opposition to interracial marriage that was based in religious belief.

Proponents for LGBT equality like myself see this claim for religious exemptions as thinly veiled attempts to exempt religious people from the basic tenets of public accommodations law.

In the three huge legislative victories for LGBT people last week (Illinois, ENDA and Hawaii) the extent of religious exemptions was a key point of debate, and this argument is not going away as religious homophobes realize they are ultimately going to lose the fight to stop marriage equality and LGBT non-discrimination nationwide so they want to limit its effect as much as possible.

We shall be watching this case very carefully to see if the U.S. Supreme Court accepts it for review. It should be noted that the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling being appealed was unanimous in favor of the public accommodations law and other cases where LGBT anti-discrimination and religious belief have all gone in favor of anti-discrimination. However, in cases where LGBT rights and other first amendment fights have been in conflict have generally gone against us (Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston).

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

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