Willock vs Elane Photography Refusing Gay Wedding Update

I wanted to go ahead and post an update to my post called Christian Photographer Refused Gay Wedding and Lost Lawsuit where the NM State Commission ruled against a photographer who refused to shoot a non-traditional (gay) wedding because of her beliefs.

This lawsuit has now been appealed by the ADF (Alliance Defense Fund) and you can read the Elane Photography Appeal Document.

According to the ADF, they are:

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith…. …to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

and they have now, as of July 1st, filed suit against the N.M. Commission’s ruling. In their press release, they say, in part:

The commission ruled that the company, run by a Christian husband and wife, was guilty of sexual orientation discrimination under state antidiscrimination laws for declining to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.

Christians in the marketplace should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs anymore than anyone else should, said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence… The commission’s decision demonstrated stunning disregard for our client’s First Amendment rights. read the rest here…

This is a very interesting case to me. The fact that a photographer was told, by the state, they had to take a job they didn’t want because it went against their beliefs (besides a whole host of other issues at hand), is just not what this country represents.

Hopefully the appeal will go well and we will not be confirmed into a state of sexual toleration over first amendment rights and basic freedoms we have by living in this country.

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

The Sin of Partiality and Faith and Works, James 2:1-24

This is my first post for the Blogger Small Group so I hope this is the format as intended for the group. I too am quite fascinated with the scripture reading for this week, chosen to be James, Chapter 2. My wife and I even discussed part of this chapter without even knowing it on the way home from our service on Sunday a few days ago, then I read it.

Great choice for this week, and I am already looking forward to the next week. If you would like to join in just visit the link above from Vagabond.

From the Book of James, Chapter 2

I made the mistake of reading Vagabond’s well thought interpretation and post on James 2 first, I think next time I will write mine out in full, then read everyone else’s. His point was on the basis of discrimination we as Christians have against the homosexual lifestyle. Very interesting comments, never equated these verses to homosexuality but that’s what makes these groups great, so many different opinions makes you think again.

To read my comments rant on his post, go read Blogger Small Group and you will see mine and everyone else’s comments from the Small Group on James 2.

This chapter was broken up into two pieces, The Sin of Partiality and Faith and Works (always a favorite topic among us Believers, huh). I will just take them in two sections. Some I see go verse by verse, I may do that at some point but I like a contextual look sometimes.

The Sin of Partiality

Chapter 2:1-13 This is one of those “sins” we often forget, I think. It is a natural process we try to go through (to be non-partial that is), of choosing who we think is worthy and not worthy. I think in our time, two distinct groups comes to mind. The homeless and family.

With these two groups as the focus, I think the next section fits right in, and it is no coincidence (to me) that the two groups here, are also the focus of the next section. How many times do we as Believers come across the poor, or the homeless type (I say type here because we have drifters around our cities but not many homeless) and we turn a deaf ear to them.

Homeless. I must have a bulls eye on my head because sometimes I feel like I can rarely go to a gas station without being approached by someone asking for money. It isn’t like I am dressed like some high falootin’ business man, I am usually in a t-shirt and jeans. But, I have to stop and think. How many other times have I talked to the person getting gas in the pump across the way, or someone inside getting a drink?

Family. How about family members. This one is a hard one because it hits home I think, but how often do we see the effects of a home that shows partiality to one sibling or another? I think it has been well documented that this sin has a great effect on the later lives of the ones involved in this type of sin, in the home.

We should not show partiality or favoritism to any group or people. If we talk someone at the gas station, we should be blind to their financial situation, and we certainly shouldn’t show favoritism at home.

Faith and Works

This next section is one of my favorites, and one that is used by churches to get people to do something. The key verse in this section to me is verses 24-26, and I love the way the chapter ends.

24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

The body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. What a powerful statement. It is important in how we live this life and what we do.

This is probably one of the most mis-interpreted scriptures as well, at least I hear it taken out of context quite often. What I think this verse IS NOT saying is that we are saved by our works. NO. Many non-believers think you can do good in this life and that will get you to heaven. Wrong. If we read the scripture, it is not by works along. Christ must be involved.

I think this section goes right along with the previous section because it talks about the poor, and the family.

v. 15-16 this clearly shows us that a person in need should have his basic needs met first. How can we offer up the Truth if the person is hungry. The less fortunate of our world, goes right back to the first section on partiality.

v. 21 this is the family section… Abraham was doing an unbelievable work of faith

Ok, so there is my run through on James chapter 2. Let me here your comments below and don’t forget to link back here if you have a comment you would like to share. Looking forward to next week as well.