EDITORIAL: Law Forces Photographers to Work Same-Sex Weddings

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), April 10, 2014 | Go to article overview

EDITORIAL: Law Forces Photographers to Work Same-Sex Weddings


Thank goodness our semi-free market provides so much choice. A decision by the Supreme Court on Monday, forcing photographers to work at same-sex weddings, reminds us why freedom requires virtuous behavior.

Though preacher Fred Phelps died, his Westboro Baptist church lives on with protests that shout hateful and frightening words about gays.

Suppose two vitriolic Westboro parishioners plan a wedding at their church. They try to contract with a gay photographer who doesn't want the job.

Some might think freedom of association, as long upheld by court interpretations of the Constitution, would protect the photographer in declining to spend a day earning money from people with values that offend him. Furthermore, rejection of the contract could be seen as expression protected by the First Amendment. Even more, the gay photographer may have religious convictions that prevent him from doing business with a church that openly hates. The First Amendment expressly defends his right to exercise religion, which may include avoidance of transactions with people who hate.

Forcing a gay photographer to work at a Westboro wedding seems cruel. But that's the type of scenario we could see as a result of the Supreme Court's decision Monday to decline a complicated religious liberties case.

The New Mexico Supreme Court determined government gets to force two wedding photographers to photograph same-sex weddings. The photographers, Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, said they "gladly serve gays and lesbians" in nonmarriage settings. But they felt same-sex wedding photography would "require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs."

It's the crux of a bigger dilemma. Our culture wants to ensure fair access to goods and services without merchants and providers discriminating on a basis of race, religion, nationality, color, creed, gender or sexual orientation - and other traits specified in local and state laws. …

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