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Alabama’s AG supports First Amendment casecomment (0)

January 2, 2014

Can the government force photographers to photograph same-sex wedding ceremonies, even if they are against their religious beliefs? The office of Attorney General Luther Strange doesn’t think so and filed a legal brief in mid-December 2013 to petition for the United States Supreme Court to take a case that went through New Mexico’s court system.

In 2006, Vanessa Willock asked Elaine Huguenin — co-owner with her husband of Elane Photography — to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony between Willock and another woman. Huguenin declined because same-sex “marriage” contradicts her religious beliefs.  

Willock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission accusing Elane Photography of discrimination based on “sexual orientation.” The commission found that Elane Photography broke the law and ordered the business to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees to the two women who filed the complaint.  

The Huguenins appealed through the New Mexico court system — arguing that fining them violates the First Amendment.

Strange filed a legal brief Dec. 13, joined by Attorney Generals from seven other states, in support of Huguenin’s petition to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The brief argues that the First Amendment forbids New Mexico from coercing the Huguenins to photograph a same-sex ceremony.

The brief states in part: “By compelling Elane Photography to photograph ... the ceremony, New Mexico is unconstitutionally requiring the photographer to create ... approval, validation and celebration of the ceremony.”


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