August 23, 2013

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled earlier today that Elane Photography, LLC cannot discriminate against same-sex couples and cite religious beliefs. The case went to the courts after the company's co-founder, Elaine Huguenin, refused to photograph the commitment ceremony of Vanessa Willock, a resident of Albuquerque. 

A complaint was subsequently investigated by the state Human Rights Commission, which dubbed the decision discriminatory. That decision was then upheld by the New Mexico Court of Appeals in June of 2012 before being appealed again to the state supreme court. Elane Photography argued that, because photography is an "expressive" medium, it is subject to protection under the First Amendment. The ACLU, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Willock and her partner, argued that, because the photographs were being sold as part of a business, the company was subject to the same regulations as would a normal company." A commercial business cannot solicit customers from the general public to buy its services as a photographer for hire and then claim that taking those photographs is a form of its own autonomous expressive activity," they said on their official website

Thankfully, the New Mexico Supreme Court agreed in their opinion:

"We conclude that a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the antidiscrimination provisions of the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples. Therefore, when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races." 

Read more at Towleroad.