The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Christian photographers who were fined and admonished by the New Mexico Supreme Court for declining to work a same-sex ceremony, in what could be a blow to religious business owners.
The high court decision not to take up the appeal means the New Mexico ruling against them stands. That ruling is only binding in New Mexico, but could set a precedent that can be cited in subsequent cases.
In this case, Elane Photography, owned by Jon and Elaine Huguenin of New Mexico, was brought to court for refusing to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony in 2006.
An attorney for the couple argued that the business openly advertises its wedding photography services, and as a public business is required to follow the same anti-discrimination laws as any other company.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in August that the business’s refusal to photograph the ceremony involving two women did violate the state’s Human Rights Act.
Lawyers for the business, though, argued the ruling violates the business owners’ free speech rights by compelling them to “express messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.”
Elaine Huguenin said she also has a right of artistic expression under the First Amendment that allows her to choose what pictures to take, or refrain from taking.