Issue: Did the New Mexico Supreme Court violated Elaine Huguenin rights when it ruled against her when she refused to take pictures of a same sex ceremony because it violated her religious beliefs? Was it discriminating to the party involved? Elaine huguenin is a photographer in New Mexico who declined to take any images of a same sex ceremony because it went against her religious beliefs. The other party filed a discrimination complaint. The other party stated they were discriminated based on sexual orientation. Elaine Photography stated it was a violation of their first amendment regarding their freedom of religion and speech, because it was their belief that marriage should be between a woman and a man and pictures will portray the wrong message towards their company. They also stated it went against the NMRFRA, which is a law under New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act for accommodations of religious prohibitions. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Elaine photography stating it had no right to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The court stated if they can take a picture of same sex individuals or different races they are able to take pictures of couples. Elaine Photography disagreed and has asked the U.S Supreme court to review its case. (Stuart, 2010).
Rule: According to New Mexico Anti Discriminatory Law, Businesses cannot refuse to service any individuals based on sexual orientation. An Act Relating to Human Rights, which became effective July 1, 2003, New Mexico law protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity "in matters of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and union membership. (Stuart, 2010). Analysis: The Elaine Photography legal battles shows that nondiscrimination laws may burden religious freedom and may pose a threat to civil liberties, especially to the first amendment (freedom of speech and religion). The discriminatory law was upheld over free speech, Meaning business couldn’t operate freely; they must follow the regulations set forth by state and country. The Supreme Court also noted a difference between the owner and photographer; the plaintiff in this case was the company, which was a limited liability company that has no free exercise right. The plaintiff also brought forward the NMRFRA, which is a law under New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act for accommodations of religious prohibitions; the court didn’t go for it. It stated NMRFRA applies to a suit against a government agency no private parties. (Cheeseman, 2013)
Conclusion: Anti-discriminatory laws are set in order for individuals to be treated equal. Some religious organizations are exempt from the law, such as churches, and even in the military where woman are prohibited to uphold certain positions based on gender. Bussines are not exempt and must adhere by their states law. The Elaine Photography case proves that the first Amendment relating to freedom of speech and religion cannot go against discriminatory laws. Yet with the increasing of more businesses such conflict as these will still keep happening