Court: Christian Photog Can’t Refuse Gay Ceremonies

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A Christian photography studio is guilty of discrimination because it refused to take pictures of a gay commitment ceremony, according to a New Mexico's Court of Appeals ruling.

That decision against Elane Photography upholds a lower court ruling that said the photo studio is considered a public accommodation, similar to a restaurant or store.

The case dates back to 2008 when New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled the studio violated the state's Human Rights Act and discriminated against Vanessa Willock because of her sexual orientation.

Elane Photography Studio argued that the decision is simply a reflection of the owners' religious and moral beliefs.

"Christians in the marketplace should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs anymore than anyone else should," Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence said in a statement after the original ruling by the commission.

"The government cannot make people choose between their faith and their livelihood," he said. "Could the government force a vegetarian videographer to create a commercial for the new butcher shop in town? American business owners do not surrender their constitutional rights at the marketplace gate."

The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the studio, plans to appeal the latest court ruling.

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