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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 11 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 15
SCOTUS turns down appeal of 'Christian' New Mexico photographer
Section One
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SCOTUS turns down appeal of 'Christian' New Mexico photographer

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from a New Mexico photographer convicted of violating the state's anti-discrimination laws when she refused to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson later told SGN that the court's decision not to hear the case confirms his decision to prosecute a Richland florist for refusing to provide flowers for a Gay wedding.

In the New Mexico case, Elane Photography v. Willock, the photographer filed suit in a state court, claiming that her refusal to photograph the 2006 wedding of Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth was protected on religious grounds. The ceremony itself was symbolic, since same-sex marriages were not yet legal in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against the photographer, saying that her business service can be regulated because it is a public accommodation. Following that decision, Elane Photography asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the lawsuit based on First Amendment protections under the U.S. Constitution.

The legal principles are essentially identical to the Washington case in which Alene's Flowers refused to provide service to a Gay couple who wished to be legally married in Richland. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the florist under state consumer protection laws, saying she was illegally discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

'The Supreme Court's refusal to take up this case is further confirmation that there is nothing exceptional about states applying their laws to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation,' Ferguson told SGN about the New Mexico case.

'As Attorney General, I will continue to pursue our lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers because, under Washington's Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide the same product or service to same-sex couples.'

The Washington case has not yet gone to trial. The state is seeking $2,000 in penalties and a permanent injunction requiring the florist to comply with state laws.

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