US Supreme Court declines appeal over gay bias case

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A U.S. Supreme Court says it won’t take up a New Mexico photographer’s case. It’s a decision making national headlines.

When a same-sex couple was looking for a photographer for their commitment ceremony, they went to Elane Photography.

The owner of the Albuquerque business, Elaine Huguenin, refused to photograph the service, citing her Christian beliefs. That was back in 2006.

The couple filed a discrimination complaint that would eventually make its way to the New Mexico Supreme Court last year. The justices said it violated the state’s Human Rights Act.

Huguenin then teamed up with Alliance Defending Freedom.

“The New Mexico Supreme Court said that there’s a price to pay for citizenship by leaving one’s beliefs at the door when they enter the market place,” Austin Nimocks, senior counsel with the organization said. “We don’t believe in that.”

They took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court who decided Monday, it wouldn’t hear it.

“The issue is we’ve now forced a single photographer who has her own business to do something against her deeply held beliefs,” Nimocks said. “That’s not freedom, that’s not America and the law needs to be fixed.”

ADF calls it a blow to their case and now they’re hoping local lawmakers will step in.

On the other side of this issue, ACLU New Mexico, a civil rights group, says it’s happy with the decision.

“Businesses that are offering their services in a public marketplace shouldn’t be allowed to use their religion to discriminate,” Peter Simonson said.

Simonson, director of ACLU New Mexico, says people can have and hold their religious beliefs – as individuals. He says things change when you’re talking about a business.

“I don’t think we believe that a company has religious beliefs, it doesn’t have a soul, it doesn’t have a religious belief to support,” Simonson said.

KRQE News 13 reached out to Farmington senator William Share, an outspoken opponent of same sex marriage. He says New Mexico is “losing freedoms at an alarming rate,” but has no plans as of now to introduce new laws.

Religious protection laws have been introduced in 8 states. In many of them, lawmakers cite Huguenin’s case.

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