The New Plot to Take Down Gay Rights
Willock told the state Human Rights Commission she was “shocked, angered and saddened” by Elane’s response, and suddenly worried she and Collinsworth would be unable to find a photographer. Though they eventually did, Willock also filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, saying that Elane Photography had violated a New Mexico state law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
In August, the New Mexico Supreme court agreed, ruling unanimously that Elane Photography had violated state law by refusing to photograph the ceremony. Now the Huguenins are seeking to have their case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that forcing them to take pictures of same-sex ceremonies violates their First Amendment rights by compelling them to engage in speech they don’t believe in. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, it will provide the first key test of a conservative political and legal strategy of reframing a losing battle against gay rights into a conflict over religious freedom, one that could rewrite the bounds of anti-discrimination laws in the United States. The case has “widespread ramifications for the conflict between religious rights and anti-discrimination rights,” said Caroline Mala Corbin, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law.
“The anti-gay, anti-freedom to marry crowd, having largely lost the argument on gay people and on marriage, are resorting to a distraction argument that is aimed at tearing a hole in the longstanding protections we have in this country against public accommodation discrimination,” said Evan Wolfson, head of the pro-LGBT rights group Freedom to Marry. “Their quarrel is not really just with marriage, it’s with the whole idea of non-discrimination law that we’ve fought hard for over decades through many difficult chapters of American history.”