The New Mexico State Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a Christian wedding photographer cannot refuse to provide services to homosexual couples who seek to contract with the photographer to take pictures of their homosexual commitment ceremony, even if the photographer and photography company argue that participation in the ceremony would violate the tenets of their faith.
Elaine Huguenin, a Christian who owns the photography business, was asked to provide services to a gay commitment ceremony between two lesbians, Vanessa Willock and her partner. Ms. Huguenin and her husband declined to provide their services because they are Christians who believe that marriage is the sacred commitment between a man and a woman. When the photography company refused to participate in the ceremony, Ms. Willock brought her case to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. In her complaint, she accused the Elane Photography company of discrimination based on “sexual orientation.”
The Human Rights Commission held a one-day trial in January 2008. Several months later, they issued an order finding that Elane Photography did in fact engage in discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and that such discrimination was prohibited by state law. The Commission ordered Elane Photography to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees to the women who filed the complaint.
Ms. Huguenin appealed the decision by the Commission to the New Mexico Supreme Court, who upheld the Human Rights Commission’s decision.
Justice Richard C. Bosson wrote in a concurrence to the opinion: “At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others…. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people…. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”
According to Justice Bosson, a faith commitment is rightfully trumped by the “contrasting values of others.” His use of tolerance is quite ironic, however, as the tolerance he refers to is a one-way street. The Christian company and owners are forced by this ruling to not only tolerate, but to accept a lifestyle that contradicts their faith. They, on the other hand, can expect zero-tolerance by the state or those who disagree with the tenets of their faith.
As Christians, we can expect to see more of these cases, and for those who seek to hold true to orthodox faith, we can expect to be on the losing side of many of these cases. Given this reality, we need to expect to increasingly be persecuted for our faith. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12 “Everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”