Fox News anchor Shannon Bream defended a New Mexico photographer who was sued after refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, suggesting that forcing the photographer to serve gay customers would infringe on religious liberty.
On August 22, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Elane Huguenin -- owner of Elane Photography -- violated New Mexico's anti-discrimination law when she refused to photograph the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple.
During the August 23 edition of America Live, Bream invited Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) senior counsel Jordan Lorence -- who unsuccessfully represented the Huguenins -- for a one-sided interview to criticize the court's decision as an attack on religious liberty:
BREAM: So many parts of the opinion raise a lot of questions. The concurring judge ... said that the Huguenins, the couple here, have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. What about the Huguenins?
LORENCE: Well that's exactly right. In a free society, we have to, people of different beliefs have to learn how to get along. There were plenty of photographers available, willing to shoot this same-sex ceremony. They got them. The Huguenins just need to be excused. This can't be used in an authoritarian, coercive way to force people to basically promote the messages that they don't agree with.
If you want to know how ridiculous this line of reasoning is, just replace “gay couple” with any other marginalized group. What if the photographer had refused to offer her services for a commitment ceremony for Latinos, or an interracial couple, or a Muslim couple? As the Justice Richard C. Bosson wrote in his concurring opinion:
The Huguenins today can no more turn away customers on the basis of sexual orientation--photographing a same-sex marriage ceremony--than they could refuse to photograph African-Americans or Muslims.
Bream went on to ask if the lawsuit was secretly an effort to advance the legalization of same-sex marriage (it isn't -- the lawsuit had nothing at all to do with legality of same-sex marriage in New Mexico) and challenged the state supreme court's claim that Elane Photography had violated the couple's “constitutionally protected rights”:
BREAM: What is the constitutionally protected right here, because [Elane Huguenin] wasn't performing weddings, she wasn't -- which is not legal in New Mexico anyway. I mean, she was asked to photograph a commitment ceremony. Is it the constitutional right to photographs? I seriously am confused by what the judge was referencing there.
If Bream had read continued reading Bosson's opinion, she would have learned that he was referring to the couple's “right granted them under New Mexico law to engage in the commercial marketplace free from discrimination”:
In a constitutional form of government, personal, religious, and moral beliefs, when acted upon to the detriment of someone else's rights, have constitutional limits. One is free to believe, think and speak as one's conscience, or God, dictates. But when actions, even religiously inspired, conflict with other constitutionally protected rights--in Loving the right to be free from invidious racial discrimination--then there must be some accommodation. Recall that Barnette was all about the students; their exercise of First Amendment rights did not infringe upon anyone else. The Huguenins cannot make that claim. Their refusal to do business with the same-sex couple in this case, no matter how religiously inspired, was an affront to the legal rights of that couple, the right granted them under New Mexico law to engage in the commercial marketplace free from discrimination.
Lorence, whose organization is working internationally to criminalize homosexuality, echoed Bream's concerns, arguing that certain professionals -- like artists or speechwriters -- should be exempt from being required to promote certain “messages” that contradict their personal beliefs.
But Elane Photography wasn't being asked to endorse marriage equality; it was being asked to photograph a gay couple's private commitment ceremony. The “message” Elane photography objected to was the idea that gay couples exist. And a personal objection to the mere idea of homosexuality simply isn't a good enough reason to legally discriminate against same-sex couples.