The Right of Refusal, Human Rights, & Good Business Practices


New Mexico Human Rights Commission
Oh, it’s the Alliance Defense Fund – what else?
My initial feelings were this was a crock since the ADF was involved.
The “fine” in question is attorney fees. (nothing else)
Elane Photography
This comes from photo business forum:

“…Had the photographer – who is in the business of providing photographic services to couples – simply decided, in her own mind, that she objected to these specific types of ceremonies, simply said “I don’t think I would be a good fit for your ceremony”, or even said she had other obligations, that would have been the end of it. Instead, the photographer opted to leave a paper trail, of sorts, in the form of an email to the prospective clients, regarding her religious objections to a same-sex ceremony, and thus, indicated that her intention to not provide professional services to this couple was based upon this position. A statement that, in many jurisdictions, can be interpreted (and has successfully been, in courts-of-law) as discriminatory.

Are there many, many other photographers in the Albuquerque area that could provide as good as, if not better, services than Huguenin? Surely that’s the case. Why did this couple decide to bring this case before a state tribunal? Because refusal of service could very well be discriminatory, when made by the owner of a business.

Yes, you’re a business, just like the malt shops who wouldn’t serve blacks in the 60’s – they were in the wrong. You’re a business, just like those that might refuse an interracial couple from enjoying a romantic dinner in their restaurant. Those that would do so would be found to be in the wrong. You’re a business, just like those that would refuse a muslim service after 9/11, they were found to be in the wrong. Federal laws have jurisdiction over civil/human rights issues, where people are discriminated on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, and sexual orientation.

The defense’s position, according to the Times, is that “Elane Photography is basically a husband-and-wife small, little commercial photography business” run by “devout Christians who have a variety of things they don’t want to take pictures of.” This is acceptable where, say, they don’t want to do boudoir photography. Or, perhaps, produce pictures which depict a burning cross, and so forth. But is it, in this case? The defense goes on to suggest “…’the First Amendment protects artists like Mrs. Huguenin from being compelled by the state to engage in expression that violates their religious convictions.’ The First Amendment ‘is pretty clear that Christians should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs,’…”, and so, an interesting twist is added when we begin to discuss the compelling of an artist to make expressions that they believe violates their religious convictions.

This isn’t, in the end, the same as the sale of a tangible product like a chocolate malt, or an appetizer and main course.

Remember – you are a business. And, your business falls under anti-discrimination laws just as any other “small, little commercial photography business” falls under laws that preclude the dumping of film chemicals down the drain into city water, or handicap-access to your storefront studio in that quaint downtown shopping district in Anytown USA….”

A business does not have the right to discriminate when offering restrooms, water, or basic services to anyone due to race, orientation, or nation of origin, etc.  I don’t see this as being any different from the Islamic cabbies in Minneapolis who will not carry seeing eye dogs.

Here is another take on this from a law professor:

“…Elane Photography argues as follows:  The bulk of the photographic work done by the company is done by co-owner Elaine Huguenin (though she subcontracts some of the work some of the time). Huguenin’s photographs are works of art, which embody a wide range of artistic choices (she says she takes a “photojournalist” approach, rather than just doing normal staged photos).  She exercises political judgment in deciding what to photograph (for instance, she refuses to make photographs that put horro films in a positive light, or to take photographs that positively portray abortion, pornography, or nudity, as well as same-sex marriage), as well as artistic judgment in deciding how to photograph.  Requiring her to photograph an event that she doesn’t want to photograph is thus an unconstitutional speech compulsion.

The complicating factor, of course, is that Huguenin wouldn’t be required (even if the Commission rules in Willock’s favor) to display same-sex wedding photographs on her Web site, or include them in some art gallery exhibition.  Rather, Huguenin would simply be required to *create* photos of an event she disapproves of, and then convey those photos to Willock, who would then display and distribute them to her circle of friends (perhaps even without mentioning Huguenin’s name). But Huguenin is arguing that the Free Speech Clause freedom from speech compulsions includes her freedom not to create art she disapproves of, and not just her freedom not to display art she disapproves of.

Assume that Willock is correct as a matter of state law that “public accommodations” covers services and not just physical places of accommodation, and that the law thus applies to photographers.  Would the law, as applied, violate the photographer’s First Amendment rights?

Or say that instead of Willock’s trying to hire a photographer, Willock was trying to hire a solo freelance writer to write materials for Willock’s (hypothetical) same-sex marriage planning company.  The writer refused on the grounds that she didn’t want to promote such a company.  Would the law, as applied, violate the writer’s First Amendment rights?…”

Stop the ACLU
Say Anything Blog

Gateway Pundit

Ms Willock works as an EEO Compliance Representative. While I often think the ADF is a crock, I think this time “right” might be on their side simply because it appears to me as though this whole thing was a set up to take down one of those annoying Christians. Willock is also a diversity activist. She is also a big time lesbian activist. She filed the following paperwork, the first piece of which does not feature the name of her “partner”. Nor is it featured here.

I did an address look-up, trying to find the name of her “partner”.  This is what I found.
The person living with Willock is Misti Pascottini.   She is 35 years old.  I can find nothing about her by googling.  Evidently there is a “relationship” because Misti goes by the name “Willock”.


I don’t know who is right and wrong here.  This is a tough one.  First, we are dealing with a business in New Mexico.  The law says you cannot discriminate because of sexual orientation.  There is very much a live and let live philosophy in the state that comes, I think, not from being liberal, but is basically “Wild West”.

If there ever was an origin of “don’t ask don’t tell” it was the “Wild West”. You did not ask about a person’s background or history.  All that mattered was their current behavior and reputation. Funny thing, but there was really no proscription against gays or lesbians in the west.  It was literally live and let live.  Wyatt Earp’s business secretary (the last 15 years of his life) was openly gay and living with a man Wyatt would ask about in his letters to John Flood.  Josie would send her regards and ask them over for dinner.

I have my suspicions about a few leading figures in the history of the Wild West. I am thoroughly convinced there was some gay activity within the gang known as The Cowboys.  John Tunstall, who’s death caused the Lincoln County Cowboy War, was openly gay. I also suspect the same of Billy the Kid.  (I’m gonna hear about that one).  Wild Bill Hickock was such a homophobe I wonder about him. I’ve also heard from more than one expert on the west that there’s a heck of a lot more to Brokeback Mountain than you would think.

I’ve lived in New Mexico for nearly a decade.  It is probably one of the most “open” states I’ve seen when it comes to the acceptance of the gay lifestyle.  At a party my mother had a few years ago, both the priest and my friend from the RNC were sitting at the same table as my gay friends (an open couple) visiting.  Everyone knows these guys are a couple.  No one cares.  My priestly friends don’t mind openly gay people at church.  Like one said to me, “Church is for sinners, and we are all sinners.”

As a Christian, the only way I can approach this is the fact that we are all sinners, and with the exception of the unpardonable sin of refusing Christ, we are all forgiven if we ask.  There are things in life I just don’t understand.  If my friends Tom and Leroy have been in a dedicated monogamous relationship for 33 years, is their sin of homosexuality any greater than the church-member who is shacking up with someone of the opposite, goes to church, takes HE, and goes about his/her life?

If I am a Christian, practicing the love of Christ, how do I turn my back on someone who is gay or lesbian and tell them I do not allow them to patronize my business.  If I am a Christian, don’t I try to show the love of Christ?  The love of Christ is – love, kindness, etc. Look at the Fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, kindness, self-control.  Is anything on that list that would compel or allow me to refuse to allow a gay or lesbian to patronize my business?

I go back to the story.  The photographer is very talented.  Her wedding photos are beautiful.  I think because of her actions, and (from what I’ve ascertained) her determination not to allow persons of a different orientation to use her services, and her subsequent advertising that she is doing it because she is a Christian, she has brought her problems upon herself.

When I started writing this rant, I was on her side.  I am not going to say she was not “set up”.  But, after seeing the quality of her photography, it is possible the lesbian couple in question simply wanted quality photography of their “wedding”.  As a business owner in the state of New Mexico, she does not have the right to refuse someone based on their sexual orientation.  It’s the law.

Elaine Huguenin claims to be a Christian, yet she willingly and knowingly broke the law.  It wasn’t a law that was about morality, it was a law about discrimination. Elaine Huguenin refused to serve her perspective customers because they were sinners.  I have news for Elaine Huguenin, so is she.  The lesbian couple in question were simply Zacchias, the sinner shunned by polite society 2000 years ago.  Tell me, did Christ go visit the religiously pure denzians of the Temple or did he go hang with Zacchias?

Vanessa & Misti Willock are still together, today.  While I first suspected a set-up, after a little investigating, I realized they were very serious about their relationship.

What if Vanessa & Misti sought out Elaine Huguenin because she was a talented wedding photographer and they wanted the best?

What if Vanessa Willock took out Elaine Huguenin simply because she knew how to do it?

What if Vanessa & Misti were very hurt by Elaine Huguenin, a Christian?

That wasn’t very kind was it?  It looks to me like Elaine Huguenin, the superior Christian is more like the Sadducees and Pharisees who were ignored by Christ in favor of a sinner.  According to Elaine Huguenin, Vanessa & Misti were sinners, breaking the 10 Commandments.  BUT – Christ gave us additional instructions that trump the Big Ten because Christ = God, right?  He said that we we to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and then the second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

It’s Christians like Elaine Huguenin who make us look bad.  And, you want to know something?  If I were shopping around for a wedding photographer, even if she were the best, I would not use her.  I would be afraid she would insult my friends Tom and Leroy.

If Elaine Huguenin has simply told Vanessa & Misti she was already booked, I would take her side.  But, she had to tell them she was a Christian who did not associate with lesbians because their actions violated her standards.  Is she that afraid of a couple lesbians?  Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

One more what if.  What if Vanessa Willock was trying to set up Elaine Huguenin.  If the photographer had been making her Fruit Salad and adding kindness, she would not be in the situation she is in today.

Was Elaine Huguenin prosecuted because of her beliefs or for violating her beliefs?