In a religious liberty case with far-reaching implications, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a photo studio’s appeal for the right not to record a same-sex commitment ceremony, Fox News reported.
When Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, Christian owners of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, N.M., declined Vanessa Willock’s request to photograph the 2006 event, Willok filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. The commission found the pair guilty of violating the state’s discrimination law and fined them $7,000, even though Willock found another photographer to capture her ceremony at a lower price.
“The Huguenins will not create images that tell stories or convey messages contrary to their religious beliefs,” attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom argued on the Elane Photography owners’ behalf, according to the Heritage Foundation. “For this reason they have declined requests for nude maternity pictures and photographs portraying violence.”
The couple’s seven-year battle to run their business in accordance with their religious beliefs ran afoul in August 2013, when the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that their refusal to photograph the ceremony violated the state’s Human Rights Act, Fox News reported.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court refused to weigh in, the state’s high court ruling reigns, though only in New Mexico. But it does set precedent, further blurring the lines between nondiscrimination policies and religious freedom, and forcing conscientious objectors to act against their faith.
“If it becomes something where Christians are made to do these things by law in one state, or two, it’s going to sweep across the whole United States,” Elaine Huguenin said, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom. “And religious freedom could become extinct.”
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