A complaint filed against a Christian photographer for denying service to a homosexual couple is now raising concerns over pro-gay legislation.
Elaine Hugenin was found guilty April 9 of "sexual orientation discrimination " by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, and ordered to pay almost $7,000 in fees and costs of a lesbian couple she denied services to.
Now, faith-based groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, whose lawyers represented Hugenin, are questioning just how safe the rights of Christian business owners are.
ADF says possible passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and other legislation that incorporates the rights of homosexuals could threaten the First Amendment Rights of Christians.
"All of these protections that we have for our civil rights, as well as the definition of marriage, could be wiped away, and then people who object to it could be persecuted," explained Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel for the ADF. "Elaine Photography is an example of how it's coming to our shores."
Click the play button to hear Lorence's interview with Concerned Women for America.
If passed, ENDA would prevent hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Lorence believes the bill could be one of many to hinder religious liberty.
"These laws aren't being used to fight what people think are discriminations, but to silence people of faith, churches and business owners who believe in marriage. That's what ENDA could do," Lorence said.
"You can think of all sorts of scenarios where somebody who's in the business world is being forced to avocate a position with their livelihood that they would not do absent government coercion," he added.
Lorence recommends Christian businesses start looking ahead, as their First Amendment rights begin losing again and again to the rights of homosexuals.
"They have to start thinking now what they will do and put it in writing as a corporate policy," he said. "(Say) 'We do not do these types of things with our business because it's been dedicated to the Lord.'"
Hugenin and her husband run Elane Photography. They declined to take pictures of a lesbian ceremony in 2006, on the basis that it went against their religious beliefs.
Lorence said the case has raised concern of even those who wouldn't consider themselves Christian or Conservative.
Currently, New Mexico does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.
Sources: Concerned Women for America, Alliance Defence Fund