Photography studio violated discrimination laws by refusing gay clients.

Ron White, when telling his famous story about getting thrown out of a bar, finishes it with the line “Ok, I told you that story so I can tell you this other story…”  That’s how this post is going to be.

First, a photography studio in New Mexico that refused to photograph a gay wedding has been ruled to have broken the state’s discrimination laws.

The court found that Elane Photography’s refusal to serve Vanessa Willock violated the act, which “prohibits a public accommodation from refusing to offer its services to a person based on that person’s sexual orientation,” according to the ruling.

This is a good ruling.  Just as you could not expect to be able to refuse service to black people, even if you were the most ardent Klan member, you also cannot refuse service to gay people, regardless of what you think of their lifestyle.  Discrimination is horrid regardless.

Ok, I told you that story so I could tell you the real reason I wanted to blog about this.  It’s what Richard C. Bosson, one of the concurring judges, wrote about it.  It’s one of the best things I’ve read in some time:

Justice Richard C. Bosson, writing in concurrence, said that the case “provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice.” In addition, the case “teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less.”

The owners of Elane Photography, Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, “are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish” Bosson wrote. Nevertheless, in the “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.”

Doing so, Bosson said, is “the price of citizenship.”

Forget “In God We Trust”…let’s put that on some American monuments.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jasper

    “Discrimination is horrid regardless.”

    Just to be pedantic a second, “discrimination” is typically short for “invalid discrimination”. I’d fully expect the company owners to discriminate against escaped axe murderers.

    • Jasper

      I’m kinda on a mission to clear that up, because it’s the sort of thing where “Well you libs are intolerant of intolerance! Hypocrites!” idiocy comes from.

      • Zugswang

        Kinda sucks that we have to be pedantic in order to pre-empt the inevitable complaints from ideologically self-congratulatory pedants.

  • Sven2547

    Of all the fallacious “reasons” the religious right is against marriage equality, I think the most short-sighted and depraved is “Marriage equality violates my right to discriminate against millions of law-abiding Americans.”

  • vincent findley

    The first amendment does not treat avoiding offense as a sufficient interest to justify restricting or compelling speech, Texas v. Johnson. Based on this, the New Mexico court of appeals will be reversed without thinking twice about it!
    Who the f…….k does the New Mexico Supreme Court think they are adjudicating religious doctrin? That will be the day any government entity will tell me who and what I have to photograph and why if I find to to be immoral or blasphemus based upon my religious convictions. Are we a communist nation? I think not.
    “One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of common law… There has never been a period in which the common law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation… I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society.” Joseph Story; U.S. Supreme Court justice; “Father of American Jurisprudence”
    Vanessa Willock is selfish and very stupid, I would want a photographer who is enthusiastic about photographing my civil committment, not someone who would sabatoge the event. Just another way to frivolously take up a courts docket.

    • Jasper

      Pffft… should I bother? I’m already dealing with one troll… as opposed to working *cough*

      • vincent findley

        Can’t you people come up with something better than troll, that is so freekin yesterday.

        • Oswald Carnes

          How about fucktard? That definitely describes you and your ilk.

    • Spuddie

      Sorry but your religious beliefs do not extend to how you hold yourself to the public when you run a business. If you are open to the public, you have to serve the public. You do not get to discriminate based on your “deeply held beliefs” if you are providing a service to people in a general fashion.

      There is no religious exemption to anti-discrimination laws applying to businesses open to the public. If the photography services were part of a members only club, you would have a point.

      The “they can always go somewhere else” argument was bullshit when the discrimination was racial or sectarian in nature. It continues to be so. Discrimination in commercial services in the public is considered destructive to commerce in general. So the government has a vested interest in preventing such things.

    • Fred

      “Who the f…….k does the New Mexico Supreme Court think they are adjudicating religious doctrin”

      They are not. Dipshit.

      • vincent findley

        Tell me how they are not? oh adjudicator of dipshit, without a reason. The court of appeals pretty much said you have to put your religious beliefs aside to accommodate.
        Well they can have a major taste of my testicle sweat, if they think I’m going to photograph a ceromy that is immoral in my religious beliefs.
        Do I also have to photograph nudity, because I take pictures of people embracing?
        You are another one who probably thinks asphalt is a rectum problem!

        • Fred

          Garcon, send this word salad back to the chef please. It appears to have gone rotten.

          • vincent findley

            Well Freddy boy, any kind of an answer that can show you have a sliver of intellect?

    • Jerome Haltom

      Guy, the New Mexico court just upheld over 130 years of precedent, starting with Reynolds v. United States. I’ll quote from the judge in THAT case:

      At the first session of the first Congress the amendment now under consideration was proposed with others by Mr. Madison. It met the views of the advocates of religious freedom, and was adopted. Mr. Jefferson afterwards, in reply to an address to him by a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, took occasion to say: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god; that he owes account to noneother for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, — I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” Coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.

      So here, as a law of the organization of society under the exclusive dominion of the United States, it is provided that plural marriages shall not be allowed. Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? The permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.

      • vincent findley

        “Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the of the Universe” James Madison

        “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of the Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor” George Washington

        “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” John Adams

        “And can all the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Thomas Jefferson

        Also in that 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists Thomas Jefferson also stated (don’t have the exact quote in front of me) “The only time Government should intrude in the name of religion is when one is I’ll towards thy neighbor” and provided several examples. When interpreting that letter as a basis for the not in the constitution phrase “separation of church and State” the high court should have considered the whole letter to the Danbury Baptists and some of the above quotes. Which reflects the intended intent of the fathers.

        • phantomreader42

          David Barton is a known fraud, and has been caught making up phony quotes from the Founding Fathers for gullible morons such as yourself to regurgitate in a desperate and futile attempt to pretend the United States of America is a christianist theocracy. You and your sick death cult are full of shit.

          • Jasper
          • Jasper

            “In the article, Jay Richards, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, had reportedly “grown increasingly troubled about Barton’s writings.” After consulting 10 evangelical scholars, he concluded that Barton’s books and videos contain “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”

        • Jasper


          “Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the of the Universe”

          Found a few sites – nothing very credible popped up.

          “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of the Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor”

          Only found a few sites with this quote – all Christian.

          “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”


          “And can all the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift God”


          [Citation Needed]

          Please cite the original sources for these quotes. Or be a liar.

          • vincent findley

            I’m not smart enough to make this up, you know where they came form you already did some research do some more. I’m not doing your homework for you.

          • Jasper

            I’m sorry, but you have the burden of proof here.

            My research was showing that it was mostly made up. If these quotes were demonstrably real, they’d have original sources. People who care about whether they are actually correct would think to figure that out.

            I’ll make it easy on you. Demonstrate one of them is legitimate.

            For example, here’s a quote:

            ““As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; …”

            … and, I can actually cite you where that came from – The Treaty of Tripoli, written 1796, written by President John Adams, and ratified *unanimously* by the Senate.

            It’s an actual citable source… confirmable in reality, and not emerging randomly from the ether, without any real actual citation, unlike quotes like these.

            That’s how you know you’re right… when actual demonstrable reality backs up what you say.

          • vincent findley

            Seeing that you all are 99% radical liberals on these sites, the quotes were taken from the 4th of July edition of a R.I’s mainstream newspaper. The Providence Journal, another liberal just tell what you want the public to see and not the whole story newspaper. I’m sure when you click on their website you’ll find their sources authentic.

          • Jasper

            Here’s a handy tool for looking it up, since you oddly didn’t even cite the year.


            If you took the quotes off the page, it should be readily in your browser history, and shouldn’t take more than a moment to copy/paste their citations to original sources.

            Heck, even me spoon feeding you out this much is violating your burden of proof.

          • Jasper

            I spent about 15 minutes, trying advanced searches with that tool, and google, trying every trick I had, to find this mysterious article of yours – nothing.

            .. which just reinforces the idea that you’re a compulsive liar.

            If you can’t even actually cite a source sufficiently such that people can actually find what you’re talking about, not only have you miserably failed at a rudimentary capacity to support any claims you make… you’ve failed at basic communication.

          • vincent findley

            It only took me 5 minutes and i have no clue what the F……K I’m doing on a computer.

          • Spuddie

            Yet no links from you with sources. So liar it is.

          • Jasper

            Yes, I’m really dumb. Now please fulfill your burden of proof, or be dismissed as a liar.

          • vincent findley

            Someone as smart as you couldn’t figure out that it was this year? Your calling your marxist, leftist, and radical liberal newspaper liars.Why am I a liar here? I’m just quoting from a think like you all on this site newspaper. I thought quoting from a truthfull(lol), liberal and outstanding newspaper like the projo would be ok to pacify your whining.If you’re telling me this is all bullshit,then you are calling out all sources of your information slappy.

          • Jasper

            “Someone as smart as you couldn’t figure out that it was this year?”

            That was my first assumption, actually. Since my efforts showed nothing for that day that matched your criteria, I started going back previous years.

            I couldn’t help but notice you haven’t taken the 15 seconds to copy/paste the URL from your browser history for this non-existent article.

            “Your calling your marxist, leftist, and radical liberal newspaper liars.Why am I a liar here?”

            1) You haven’t established that they have any such article.

            2) Given how pathetically easy it would be for you to cite your source, and the fact searches revealed nothing, the likeliness that you’re making it up is quite high.

            Incidentally, what I’d be checking the article for is the citations of original sources… you know.. what I asked YOU for initially.

            That’s how I would be able to tell whether they were full of shit, like you, or not. That’s how rational, intelligent people figure things out – evidence – not whether the people quoting historical figures happens to coincide with one’s ideology.

          • phantomreader42

            Your cult paying to put an ad in a paper doesn’t magically make your lies true.
            The United States of America is not a christian nation. It never has been. Anyone who says it is is an idiot and a liar. Anyone who tries to turn it into one is a traitor.

          • Spuddie

            You are also not smart enough to know by now that unattributed cut and paste quotes of founding fathers are treated as fictional bullshit unless backed up with a citation to a website. David Barton ruined it for everyone. Sorry

          • phantomreader42

            So, the BEST argument you can come up with to support your idiocy is that you’re an idiot? And you think that’s a good reason to believe you? Well, you’re right about one thing, you’re pretty fucking stupid.

          • islandbrewer

            C’mon, it’s vincent findley! Really, how smart do you think any of his arguments could get?

          • vincent findley

            Well if you weren’t discussing this with me then you would consider the source authentic because of the nature of the paper. So look up where they got there sources from do some homework you lazy f…….k and then you can have a major taste of my un wiped ass!!

          • Jasper

            Welp, you’ve been given ample opportunity to meet an astonishingly easy burden of proof.


          • phantomreader42

            Ah, so you can’t even be bothered to pretend to care about backing up your idiotic assertions. Thanks, it saves time to just dismiss everything you say as the delusional ravings of a sociopathic asshole. Now would you kindly fuck off.

      • Spuddie

        You left out my favorite part of the decision, where the court brings up the ultimate example of selfish religious practice, human sacrifice

        “Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship, would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice? Or if a wife religiously
        believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her
        dead husband, would it be beyond the power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice?

    • Jerome Haltom

      A precedent that has been REPEATEDLY upheld since then. It forms the basis of the enforcement of Civil Rights Act of 1964. There were hundreds of cases regarding Christians attempting to refuse to serve black people on the basis of religious freedom: they were all thrown out.

      The authority of the government to establish laws that restrict your actions though it may violate your religious beliefs is beyond question. What it cannot do, of course, is change or attempt to change your beliefs themselves.

      In short, you may actually be surprised to know that the country you think this is, is not, and has never been, as you think it is.

    • phantomreader42

      You don’t get to just ignore any laws you find inconvenient, even if you claim the invisible man in the sky wants you to. Your delusions don’t exempt you from the laws of this nation, no matter how desperately you want them to.

  • ZenDruid

    I really wish there was a legal and official definition of ‘asshole’.
    I mean, just to clear up the conundrum that is encountered when the discussion arises of universal toleration and intolerant or intolerable people.

    For example, to the accusation by radical Islamists that criticism of radical Islamism is racist, my response would be, “You can call me a racist as soon as you demonstrate that ‘Asshole’ is a race.”