Christian Photog Sued by Same-Sex Couple

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A Christian photographer in New Mexico was found guilty last week of breaking state law for refusing to take pictures of a lesbian ceremony.

Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography was contacted in 2006 by a same-sex couple wanting pictures taken of their "commitment ceremony."

After Huguenin told them she only photographed traditional marriages, the couple filed a complaint for discrimination against their sexual orientation.

The case was taken before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, which heard the case in January.

On Wednesday, the state commission ruled that Huguenin violated the state's Human Rights Act. An order was issued for the photographer to pay close to $7,000 for the couple's attorney's fees.

The Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund plans to appeal the ruling.

"Christians in the marketplace should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs anymore than anyone else should," ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence said. "The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling people to promote a message they disagree with and thereby violate their conscience.

The commission viewed Huguenin's business as one similar to a restaurant or a store, making refusing services an act of discrimination. Huguenin and her husband Jon own the business.

"There's a great artistic component to photography, and a lot of messages are communicated with a wedding-type ceremony," Lorence added. "No one should be compelled to participate in a ceremony when they disagree with it. The government is compelling speech here in a way that violates the First Amendment."

This year, New Mexico's Senate downed a proposal to allow domestic partnerships. Critics were concerned it was too similar to recognizing same-sex marriage.

Sources: The Associated Press, Alliance Defense Fund, American Family News Network

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