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New Mexico Destroys Religious Liberty

“The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that a small Christian-owned photography business does not have the right to decline on religious grounds to shoot a same-sex commitment ceremony.”

Many are concerned that the ruling suggests that pressure for same-sex marriage will destroy the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Will those who believe in traditional marriage be driven to the margins of society? The consequence for religious belief that is contrary to the prevailing trends is already becoming clear.

The case involved Elane Photography whose owners are Christian. In 2006 they refused to photograph a two-woman “commitment ceremony” in Taos. The couple found another photographer, but one of them also filed a complaint. The business was fined $6600 by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.

New Mexico’s law explicitly protects individuals from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. Businesses cannot refuse service on this basis. Twenty other states and the District of Columbia also have such laws.

The irony is that human rights commissions are now being used to enforce discrimination against Christians who allegedly discriminate against homosexuals even for conscience reasons. Another irony is that New Mexico does not recognize same-sex “marriages” or civil unions.

The business appealed, but lost the case. They say they are going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We believe that the First Amendment protects the right of people not to communicate messages that they disagree with,” Jordon Lorence, senior counsel for the defense told Reuters.

The judge acknowledged that the photographers are “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” saying this is a “sobering result.” He also said that they have to “channel their conduct, not their beliefs so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different.” This is “part of the glue that holds us together as a nation” and part of “that sense of respect that we owe others.” This is “the price of citizenship,” he said.

Lorence was critical of the decision. “The price of citizenship does not mean giving up your constitutional rights. It is shocking to think that an artist or any American can be forced by the government to promote messages that they do not agree with,” he told Fox News Aug. 23.

Anti-discrimination complaints have been filed against other businesses, like bed and breakfast establishments and adoption agencies in various places in the United States.

It is a new day in the US when refusing to do business with individuals on moral grounds is illegal and is treated as an offense. The United States is quickly becoming a nation like Sodom where the homosexual movement is starting to pressure those who disagree with them. They cannot permit religious freedom because that freedom opposes their chosen lifestyle.

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