Many of you have read before about the New Mexico case where a lesbian couple filed a discrimination claim against a Christian photographer who refused to photograph their commitment ceremony.
When the two women filed their claim, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found against the photographer and ordered the company “to pay $6,600 in attorney fees.” Said photographer, Elaine Huguenin, reported George Will in his column on Friday . . .
. . . says that she is being denied her right to the “free exercise” of religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and a similar provision in the New Mexico Constitution. Furthermore, New Mexico’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act defines “free exercise” as “an act or a refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief” and forbids government from abridging that right except to “further a compelling government interest.”
As New Mexico’s Supreme Court prepares to sort this out, Will offers how the cases . . .
. . . demonstrates how advocates of tolerance become tyrannical. First, a disputed behavior, such as sexual activities between people of the same sex, is declared so personal and intimate that government should have no jurisdiction over it. Then, having won recognition of what Louis Brandeis, a pioneer of the privacy right, called “the right to be let alone,” some who have benefited from this achievement assert a right not to let other people alone. It is the right to coerce anyone who disapproves of the now-protected behavior into acting as though they approve of it, or at least into not acting on their disapproval.
Now, I happen to think that the photographer should have taken the contract and photographed the commitment ceremony for moral and economic reasons. Moral: commitment ceremonies are good things; we should celebrate couples. Economic, by taking the contract, she would make money for her business (and, by extension, herself.) Not just that, she might generate further business by making other people aware of her services, particularly gay and lesbian couples.
That said, she should have the choice to run her business as she sees fit. It is not for me to tell her which clients she should take and which she should refuse. I may disagree with her choice, but our constitution guarantees her the freedom to make that choice. Let us hope the New Mexico Supreme Court agrees.