Christian Photographer Who Refused Gay Wedding Lost Lawsuit

In January 2008 Elane, a freelance photographer who owns Elane Photography, refused to shoot a gay wedding between two woman and was later sued by Vanessa Willock for discrimination against a person's sexual orientation.  Elane has now lost the lawsuit and is appealing the ruling by the New Mexico State Human Rights Commission.

So, anything goes now, it's official. Now I understand from the start of this article that I live in Alabama, where I would probably be sued if I did take wedding photography of a gay marriage, but this is just over the edge. This article is not about gay marriage, really. It is about the freedoms you have as a small business owner, and citizen of this country called America. Today, most of you are almost automatically bias and on a "side" depending on your current life situation, but still, this is really out of hand.

Vanessa Willock vs Elane Photography [HRD# 06-12-20-0685]

This morning while getting ready for service, I started reading my usual list of blogs and news articles when I came across the most ridiculous story I have seen in quite some time. In New Mexico there is a woman who has a wedding photography business called Elane Photography.

She was asked to shoot a wedding between two woman (one being Vanessa Willock, a professor at UNM) in New Mexico. When she refused to take the job saying she only shoots "traditional" weddings, she was sued.

Ok, nothing new here in this day and time I guess. Sad, but typical. In this country now, anyone can sue anyone for any reason at all, but one big difference in this case, she lost. The NM Human Rights Division found her guilty and required to pay damages.  (See now also the Elaine Photography Case before the Human Rights Commission in the State of New Mexico, and their Final Ruling, see also the Alliance Defense Fund Fact Sheet for Elane Photography.)

Vanessa Willock Was Laying in Wait, it Seems

The gay couple who wanted Elane's photography services, filed this complaint, but it looks like she was just waiting for someone to turn her down. Turns out of course that along with working for UNM, Ms. Vanessa Willock is also an EEO Compliance Representative with the Office of Equal Opportunity.

What does she do there? She investigates claims of discrimination and sexual harassment for the state, and to top it off, she is also a member of the Diversity Committee at the University of New Mexico. All that begs the question of the motives Willock has or had when trying to hire this photographer and a case could be made that she was just waiting for someone to say no!

New Mexico Now Picking Your Clients?

Last time I checked we still lived in a free country? This is not some big organization under equal opportunity laws, this is a two person husband and wife photography business. I don't know anyone that does freelance work that is required to take a job, but now the state of New Mexico is telling this couple what business clients they have to accept!

News West 9: The state Human Rights Commission ruled in April that Elane Photography violated the Human Rights Act by discriminating against Vanessa Willock on the basis of sexual orientation.

Willock contended Albuquerque photographer Elaine Huguenin told her that she photographed only traditional marriages.

I don't really care what the issue is pertaining to, how in the world can the state tell a two person business what clients they can and can't take. I know there are a ton of photographers who have refused certain jobs for one reason or another. What happened if the "minister" refused to marry them (unlikely I know, they would have hand picked her) on the basis of Paul's letter to the Romans or something. Is the state going to "force" religious institutions now to marry people just because the state says it is ok?

we reserve the right to refuse

Any small business can be sued for any reason if they refuse their services to anyone now I guess. What ever happened to "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"? Guess those days are long gone and the only thing that remains is the actual sign on the business door.

A free marketplace dictates that if one business refuses, another will receive that business. You know, Supply and demand, expenses, profit, all that business type stuff. Obviously the money is less important to Elane Photography than the issue, so just take your business somewhere else. Do we have to sue EVERYONE now?

New Mexico Getting Slammed for Good Reason

I guess this is where New Mexico wants to be. Apparently there are also 20 others states that have these types of refusal laws in place. You take one tiny, and I mean TINY minority (the gay population is said to be around 2%) of any kind, doesn't matter what it is, their rights supersede those of everyone else. There are so many issues with this particular case it is hard to know what to pick on, but leave it up to the bloggers and they will do a good job as always. So, blogs and news sites galore are slamming New Mexico for good reason. Just to name a few, we have:

and it really just goes on and on. I am sorry, but how stupid are these people on the New Mexico commission or the state in total for putting these ridiculous laws in place and for telling a two person business what clients they have to take. Not only is the state telling me how to run my business but they are requiring someone to do something that is against their religious principles in favor of something that most people in this country are against in the first place.

Have You as a Photographer Ever Refused a Job?

So, I know there are tons of Christian Wedding photographers out there. Are you going to do a wedding because the state tells you to? I really don't care what the issue is, gay marriage, the intelligence level of the bride/groom, green men from mars, who cares, you own your own business so you can take the clients you want to take, right?

Well, the suit is now up for appeal and The Alliance Defense Fund's appeal asks the state district court to reverse the commission's decision and dismiss Willock's complaint." Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and Ms Willock will have to pay for her own expenses and this won't set a precedent across the states, making it illegal to not work, if that is the choice you make.

Update :: You can also see additional information at Willock vs Elane Photography Refusing Gay Wedding Update