Photographers' Rights Disappear in a Flash
June 05, 2012 - Tuesday
These days, Elane Photography is more concerned about how its legal case is developing than its pictures. For four years, the Albuquerque shop has been battling the state's Human Rights Commission (HRC) for trying to stamp out the business's religious rights. Back in 2008, a lesbian couple tried to hire the husband and wife team to shoot their "wedding," but Elaine and Jon politely declined. They told the clients that participating in the ceremony would conflict with their moral beliefs on marriage. Although the couple ultimately found another photographer, the women filed a complaint with the New Mexico HRC to make Jon and Elaine pay.
They succeeded. In a setting that more resembled a Third-World tribunal, the commission charged Elane Photography with "sexual orientation discrimination" and ordered the couple to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys' fees to the lesbians who launched the suit. Together with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the Christians appealed. After all, New Mexico doesn't recognize same-sex "marriage"--and even if it did, there would still be no legal basis for trampling the owners' conscience rights. As a private company, Elane Photography has the freedom to establish their own criteria of who they will serve and why.
Unfortunately, the courts don't seem to agree. In 2009, a trial judge sided with the HRC's finding, setting up a second round of legal challenges. Yesterday, the New Mexico Court of Appeals also upheld the Commission's decision on the grounds of the state's Human Rights Act. To ADF attorney Jordan Lorence, the rulings have both shown a stunning disregard of the Huguenins' First Amendment rights. They intend to appeal the case to the New Mexico Supreme Court--and beyond, if necessary.
"Should the government force a videographer who is an animal rights activist to create a video promoting hunting and taxidermy?" Jordan asked? "Of course not, and neither should the government force this photographer to promote a message that violates her conscience." Obviously, the courts are viewing the case of Elane Photography through the lens of political correctness--not the Constitution, which, as Jordan points out, " protects people's expression of their views, even when it comes in a commercial context. Business owners do not surrender their constitutionally protected rights at the marketplace gate."
Unfortunately, this is just a snapshot of what's happening around the country in business, sports, Hollywood, and schools. Homosexual activists are absolutely determined to punish people who refuse to embrace and celebrate their lifestyle choices. Isn't that what the Obama administration has done with its mandate on contraception and abortion pills? If the Left can't crowd conservatives out of the marketplace, then it will enlist the courts or the White House to force them out--whether it's Constitutional or not. To read Jordan's op-ed on this wave of one-sided "tolerance," click here.
Vital Signs: WA Gathers enough Names to Decide Marriage
The legislature had its say, and thanks to Preserve Marriage Washington, the people will get theirs. After an around-the-clock petition drive in local communities, voters in Washington State get a crack at overturning the new same-sex "marriage" law. Like Maryland, the grassroots team shattered expectations, hauling in more than 200,000 signatures for the referendum--nearly 80,000 more than it needed to qualify for the ballot. Their accomplishment is even more stunning when you consider how little money they had to operate. According to the state Public Disclosure Commission website, Preserve Marriage Washington has been outspent 11:1, raising just $43,000 to the homosexuals' $714,590. The energy in the state--combined with the national debate over same-sex "marriage"--more than compensated for the shoestring budget that leaders had to work with.
But to pass Referendum 74, the coalition will need more funds. If you can help, log on to Preserve Marriage Washington and donate. It will take an enormous education effort to combat the misinformation campaign that's coming from the Left. Please do your part to lend a hand--and more than a few prayers--to all of the states battling so courageously to save marriage this November: Maryland, Maine, Washington, and Minnesota.
Keeping on the State and Narrow
Despite all the dysfunction in Washington, the pro-family successes continue to pile up in the states. In Louisiana, leaders wrapped up their regular session with enormous gains on school choice and victories for life. Perhaps the most monumental accomplishment was Louisiana's decision to back Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) ambitious new education initiative, which will create the largest voucher program in the nation. Under his plan, almost a half-million students will have the ability to leave their public school and head for private or homeschooling alternatives. Parents will finally have the option of educating their children the way they see fit, and failing public schools would have to shape up or shut down. My hat goes off to Gov. Jindal who is creating an important model for other states to follow.
Before the legislature adjourned, it also put its stamp of approval on two key pro-life policies. One would ban abortion after 20 weeks and another would require an ultrasound 24 hours--instead of the current two hours--before an abortion. It is amazing what state legislatures are able to do in just a matter of weeks. Congress could stand to learn a lesson or two from the states since it's now been more than 1,100 days since the U.S. Senate preformed the most basic of tasks: passing a budget.
** After last week's DOMA decision, it looks like the statute is headed for one final stop: the U.S. Supreme Court. Check out Ken Klukowski's take in his new column, "Defense of Marriage Act Goes to SCOTUS."