On August 22, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against the freedom of religion. The case,Elane Photography v. Willock, pitted Christian professional photographer Elaine Huguenin against Vanessa Willock and her same-sex partner. When Willock asked Huguenin to photograph her same-sex commitment ceremony, Huguenin declined, stating that the assignment would conflict with her Christian beliefs. The trial court ruled that Huguenin violated the state's Human Rights Act and fined her $7,000. The appeals court affirmed. So did the New Mexico Supreme Court [PDF], unanimously, on August 22.
There are many disturbing aspects of this decision: it cuts against free religious practice (the main argument made by lead defense counsel Alliance Defending Freedom); it compels speech (the argument made by Eugene Volokh, Dale Carpenter and the Cato Institute, an organization that supports gay rights and marriage equality); and it reinforces the simple but toxic idea that private businesses can't actually make private decisions.
In addition to the anti-freedom consequences above, the decision also promises to hurt the gay-equality movement. This seems counterintuitive at first as the gay plaintiff won the case, but it doesn't take a novel theory to realize how such a ruling could damage the movement.
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