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Religious Tolerance logo

A rapidly growing series of conflicts over religious freedom/liberty
often involving members of the LGBT community seeking wedding
goods and services:

The conflict between Elane Photography and a
same-sex couple in New Mexico (Concluded)

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The term "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual community.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Comments by the public (Cont'd):

The article titled "Same-Sex Marriage Trumps Religious Liberty in New Mexico" in The Foundry/ contained 139 comments by its readers showing a wide range of views. 6 Some are quite thought provoking:

  • Milton Fewell posted:

    "I do not understand what this country has become. It used to be that religious freedom was important in our country. Now we have Judges who think that their opinion trumps the founding principles of religious freedom. It is sad that the people can't have the consideration just to pick another photographer instead of trying to ruin the lives of these good people just to push their political agenda.

  • Chuck Anziulewicz posted:

    "Atheist or Muslim or Pagan couples? No prob, their money is still green. But GAY couples? Oh no. Accepting THEIR money would be a SIN.

    All the "Christian" companies that are fed up with civil rights laws? They should file suit to have them overturned. Who knows? Maybe they'll win! Then we can go back to the old days when companies could fire Gay employees, restaurants could refuse service to Blacks, and landlords could refuse to rent to Muslims and Jews."

  • "SilentCalFan" posted:

    "Forcing a person to provide a service is involuntary servitude (i.e., slavery) and is forbidden by the Thirteenth Amendment and is contrary to the most basic American principle, individual freedom."

  • "Guest" posted:

    "What seems to be missing is the essence of this issue. If it was a restaurant refusing to serve food, that would be one thing (and it would be wrong to choose not to serve a gay couple food/drink). But photographing the ceremony is quite another. The role of the photographer is to be involved in the ceremony, as opposed to other businesses, such as selling products, or providing a service such as gardening or security."

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  • "dana" posted:

    "Marriage for same sex couples isn't legal in NM...this couple isn't married. They weren't getting married. How can "Same Sex Marriage trump religious liberty" when there's no marriage involved? Oh... I get it... it's just a good talking point to stir up people's irrational emotions... well played Heritage... well played."

  • "EVEN" posted:

    "And now try exchanging the word "lesbian" against the word "jew" or "black" and see where that drives you. Whatever intellectual method you try to hide the fact: segregation is plainly, simply, segregation."

  • "Shelley posted:

    "This is not simply about refusing service to a gay couple, it is about participating in something that you find inherently wrong. Jesus DID NOT participate in sin, he ate with sinners, he talked to them, he loved them, he did not participate in sin with them. If I serve a gay couple in my restaurant, it is not the same as sitting down with them and having a meal. Being forced to take pictures against their religion is not only wrong, it is hateful and intolerant of their beliefs. This gay couple could have gone to any other photographer but they didn't. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that they picked this couple on purpose BECAUSE they were Christians, as a sort of "in your face" gesture. Why else would they sue them? To get money? To MAKE them take pictures of the ceremony? To make the point that they can use the court system to force their beliefs on other people? Any of those reasons are wrong, wrong, wrong."

  • Dr Phillip posted:

    "Even if this case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, the court has already specified "freedom of religion" (in the 1st Amendment) and "religious civil rights" (in the 14th Amendment) have certain limitations.

    The Court stated:

    "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may [interfere] with practices."

    So religious people may not practice certain behaviors that the government has deemed not allowable.

    In this particular case, which is more than just a political battle between the religious and the homosexual community, it is about whether those in the public domain can use their religious beliefs to willfully discriminate against any group of people in the face of anti-discrimination public laws that specify they can not.

    The only way around this is for the business to switch from being a "public" business and instead become a "private" business affiliated to a specific religious group, similar to religious schools, religious hospitals, etc., that have certain exemptions from secular laws.

    As long as they operate as a public business, they will have to learn to tolerate any behavior that the law does not specifically prohibit. Although they could conceivably state they are "busy" without comment or challenging why they "refuse" to perform the services needed. 6

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About the appeal of Elane Photography v. Willock to the U.S. Supreme Court:

The Constitutional Law Prof. Blog comments:

"Interestingly, the petition relies upon the compelled speech doctrine, arguing that requiring Elane Photography, a wedding photographer to photograph a same-sex wedding would be to require her to 'create expressive images' that conveyed messages that conflict with her religious beliefs and therefore violates the First Amendment doctrine of compelled speech.  The petition heavily relies upon Wooley v. Maynard (1997) the New Hampshire 'leave free or die' license plate case. ... the case 'does not ask the Court to rule on any right of gays and lesbians to marry' and NM presently does not either prohibit or allow same-sex marriage. 

Given the US Supreme Court's highly discretionary grant of certiorari and the lack of a developed conflict in the circuits on this issue, it seems more likely than not that the US Supreme Court will refuse to hear Elane Photography.  But given the probabilities of recurrence of the issue, the US Supreme Court will most likely be confronting this issue sometime soon."

By now, it feels repetative to restate that Elane Photography v. Willock is not based on a same-sex marriage, but only on an informal committment ceremony that was written by the couple and is completely devoid of legal significance.

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The above summarizes developments up to 2013-DEC-15. More news is
expected when the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to grant certiorari.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jordan Lorence, "Fact Sheet: Elane Photography v. Willock," Alliance Defending Freedom, 2013-NOV-18, at: This is a PDF file.
  2. "Elane Photography, LLC v. Vanessa Willock," American Civil Liberties Union, 2012-DEC-18, at:
  3. "Section 28-1-2 - Definitions,", at:
  4. "Section 28-1-7 - Unlawful discriminatory practice,", at:
  5. Jacob Gershman, "Photographers Discriminated Against Gay Couple, Court Rules," Wall Street Journal, 2013-AUG-25, at:
  6. Ryan T. Anderson, "Same-Sex Marriage Trumps Religious Liberty in New Mexico," The Foundry, 2013-AUG-22, at:

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Home > Religious freedom/liberty > Goods/services conflicts > here

or Home > Important essays > Religious freedom/liberty > Goods/services conflicts > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-DEC-14
Latest update: 2013-DEC-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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