Wedding Photography, Sacrifice, and the ‘Price’ of Citizenship (CaPC)

“The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. 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. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

– Justice Richard Bosson

photographySuch was the concurring opinion in the New Mexico Supreme Court’s recent decision to deny wedding photographers the right to refuse to photograph same-sex commitment ceremonies out of religious conscience. In a closely-watched case, the justices unanimously decided that Elane Photography had violated the recent New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) by not photographing same-sex commitment ceremonies.

Elaine Huguenin had a policy of photographing same-sex clients, but not same-sex ceremonies, as that would render her a celebrant and constitute an endorsement of the practice in violation of her conscience. The main decision rejected the distinction between action and identity in this case because marriage is so closely tied to sexual identity. According to the Justices, refusing to photograph a ceremony would go against the core point of the NMHRA. By refusing to photograph such ceremonies, in the court’s opinion, it “violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

I won’t offer much comment on the legal coherence of majority decision. Others already have more ably than I could. Nor do I want to spend time talking about the nature of ‘equality‘, or whether ‘gay is the new black‘, or deal with the trope that this is the same thing as the Civil Rights battle.

But Justice Bosson’s concurring decision? Well, that’s something worth a few comments.

You can read them over at Christ and Pop Culture.