Tag Archives: gay rights

N.M. Supreme Court rules Photographers Can’t Refuse Gay Weddings

I support any two consenting adult’s right to engage in a relationship. If those two people fall in love and decide to get married that’s fine too. I’ve discussed in detail all the reasons I believe this before.

That leads me to the incident that happened in New Mexico last year where a gay couple sued a photography company for refusing to photograph their marriage ceremony – and won.  And while I support a same sex couples right to get married I do not support the Government’s assertion that it is legally justifiable to force a business to participate in such a ceremony. According the New Mexico supreme court summary the ruling was as follows:

“The district court upheld the NMHRC’s [New Mexico Human Rights Act] determinations that Elane Photography was a “public accommodation” under the NMHRA and that Elane Photography violated the NMHRA by discriminating against Willock based upon her sexual orientation…the district court also rejected Elane Photography’s constitutional and statutory arguments based upon freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the NMRFRA.” [source]

Discrimination:

Can a company  “discriminate” against a certain group of people based on something they perceive violates their religious beliefs? To answer that question I think it is helpful to think about the past.

There was a time not so long ago that people could legally discriminate against African Americans. And for various reasons (religion, culture, history) the law upheld those traditions. Eventually, with a lot of fighting and a lot of controversy, enough people decided that discriminating against black people was immoral and various state and federal civil rights laws were created.

At the time some people claimed that it was their constitutional right to refuse service to whoever they so chose (and maybe it was), but looking back it is pretty clear what they were doing was wrong. Is this another case of civil rights abuse?

Not so cut and dry:

Though I do not support any form of discrimination I do wonder if the nature of a wedding ceremony adds complexity to the situation. And since the same sex couple contacted Elane Photography to photograph a ceremony that they (Elane Photography) found specifically religious in nature it seems her decision not to photograph the ceremony should have been protected by the constitution.

Imagine Elane Photography was owned by a Hindu that refuse to photograph a beef barbecue cookout or Rodeo. Since Hind’s consider the cow “sacred” in a religious context they should not be forced to participate in an event they find spiritually offensive.

In either case – Hindu or Christian – the individual performing the photography service was justified by their religious beliefs to refuse service and should be protected by the constitution.  Right?

Why Elane Photography lost in court:

The big question is why the court ruled in favor of the same-sex couple when it seems so obvious (at least to me) that Elane Photography should have been protected under the constitution.  Let’s examine:

 “Free Expression”

The court ruled:

“The fact that some photography qualifies as expressive conduct entitled to First Amendment protection does not mean that any commercial activity that involves photography falls under the umbrella of the First Amendment…the threshold question is whether Elane Photography’s conduct is predominantly expressive…we [the court] are unpersuaded by Elane Photography’s argument that a photographer serves as more than a mere conduit for another’s expression…Elane Photography serves as a conduit for its clients to memorialize their personal ceremony. Willock merely asked Elane Photography to take photographs, not to disseminate any message of acceptance or tolerance on behalf of the gay community.”  (pages 9 – 12)

I asked my wife (an artist who supports same-sex marriage) about this and she disagrees with the courts ruling. She had this to say:

“Anything an artist does says something about what they believe or what they represent. A lot of professional painters refuse or avoid certain jobs because it’s not something they want in their portfolio and they don’t want to put out a certain image to future clients about their work. So, it’s crazy to think a photographer isn’t attached to her images.”

I agree with my wife.

Freedom of Religious Exercise

Elane Photography also argued for the  non-constitutionality of the NMHRA due to “religious rights”, but lost on that front too. The court ruled the following:

“The right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes)…the case at bar is generally applicable and neutral; it does not selectively burden any religion or religious belief. The NMHRA applies generally to all citizens transacting commerce and business through public accommodations that deal with the public at large, and any burden on religion or some religious beliefs is incidental and uniformly applied to all citizens…The NMHRA is not directed at religion or particular religious practices, but it is directed at persons engaged in commerce in New Mexico.” (p. 12-15)

Wedding Photography is not expressive and not religious. I humbly disagree. I think the court was wrong on this one.

Conservatives: Stop the Hypocracy on Gay Marriage!

I love my fellow conservatives. I will chit-chat and agree all day long about the values of personal liberty, defense of the constitution, limited Government, and balanced budgets. I honestly believe that these values are what makes America great. I think our sense of personal freedom and individualism is why we are so unique. It’s why we make the best movies, have the best tech gadgets, and why the rest of the world often looks to us for innovation.

What I dislike is how many Conservatives cherry pick their own philosophy to fit their personal beliefs. Are you conservative or are you only conservative when it fits your own personal gain and ideology? Let me provide an example.

A while back I was doing some research on local politicians (I live in Georgia) and ran across Representative Paul Braun (pictured above). Mr. Braun says all the things that makes my conservative heart flutter. In one interview he says:

“That’s what I’ve been doing in Congress, trying to push the government back to constitutionally limited government as our Founding Fathers meant it. That’s what I am all about.

I voted against [the budget] because it doesn’t even cut spending. It just slows the growth from a 5 percent growth to a 3.4 percent growth. This is just intolerable as far as I’m concerned, so what I’ll be doing is proposing specific cuts…

I am a Bible-believing Christian,” he said. “I also realize that people have other beliefs than I do and that’s fine. In fact, I respect their beliefs, but the thing we all can believe in is that we’ve just got to stop all of this out-of-control spending. No matter what your religious beliefs are, we’ve got to deal with this tremendous debt that’s unsustainable.”

I can handle this. He wants to cut spending and limit Government. While he may have his own religious beliefs he “respects [other’s] beliefs”. No problem. Right? Wrong!

Conservative Hypocracy!

Like so many conservative Rep Paul Braun preaches the limited Government conservative ideology, but is more than willing to use Government to impose his own beliefs on others AT THE EXPENSE OF TAX PAYERS! Here are two examples:

1. In May 2009, Broun proposed failed legislation that would have proclaimed 2010 “The Year Of The Bible”. He also introduced a bill to ban the sale or rental of sexually explicit materials on U.S military installations.

2. In 2008, Broun and 91 co-sponsors introduced H.J.Res.89, a proposition for the Federal Marriage Amendment. The proposed amendment to the United States Constitution would define marriage as “as consisting only of the union of a man and a woman.” Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and eight other senators introduced a proposition for the amendment with S.J.Res.43 on June 25.

Hypocracy is a Pattern

Rep Braun demonstrates the lack of ideological consistency that is a major pattern in the conservative community.  If you want to preach individuality, limited Government, and personal freedom then it should be FOR ALL PEOPLE – not just the ones who fall into your religiously defined moral code.

Conservatism is about individuality and liberty, not about stifling the pursuit of happiness for a group of people who just so happen to be attracted to the same sex. The Government should stay out of people’s personal lives or any contract between two consenting adults – especially when it involves matters of the heart.

If anyone should support Same Sex Marriage – on principal alone – it should be conservatives.

Chick-fil-a and Measuring the Pulse of Society on Gay Marriage

It looks like Mike Huckabee declared today “Chick-fil-a appreciation day” to honor their opposition to Same Sex Marriage and to honor their traditional Christian values.   I didn’t think much about it until I logged onto Facebook today.  I hate Facebook.

My news feed was covered with posts about Chick-fil-a.  People were quickly choosing sides and declaring their love or hatred for Chick-fil-a.  Sitting in an office in California – 2468 miles away from my home in Atlanta, GA – it became obvious to me that the South is  in transition.

Click to enlarge

My Thoughts On Chick-fil-a and Gay Marriage

First of all I think its great that we live in a country that is free enough where people can have peaceful disagreements without killing each other or going to jail (for now).  I think Chick-fil-a is perfectly within their rights to speak out against Gay Marriage – they are idiots for their beliefs – but perfectly within their rights.

If customers are unhappy with their Truitt Cathy’s beliefs and the companies Christian values then they can let their feet and money do the talking and stop going to the restaurants, urge people can stop buying Chic-fil-a franchises, and soon enough the economy will tell Chick-fil-a and their owners all they need to know.  I do think it is worth mentioning that many franchise owners of Chick-fil-a DO NOT agree with Mr. Cathy.  So that might be worth considering too.

As far as gay rights – well I support them.  No one should be able to tell two consenting adults what type of personal relationship they can have.  I have written extensively about that before.  You can read about that here and here for starters.

Morally, I do not think same-sex marriage is wrong.  If two people love and respect each other, have integrity, are socially and personally responsible, have good values, and practice them – they have my support.  Their race, faith, creed, gender, sexual preference, relationship status, etc. means little to me.