Justices Let Stand Ruling That N.M. Law Violated by Photographer’s Refusal to Work Gay Wedding

Wedding photographers in New Mexico can’t refuse service to gay couples, following today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear an appeal from a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court that such a refusal violates the state’s public accommodations law.

In last August’s ruling, the state’s highest court ruled that Elaine Photography violated the law by refusing business from a gay couple who wanted it to photograph their commitment ceremony. The company argued unsuccessfully that it didn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation but rather that it didn’t want to endorse the same-sex couple’s wedding.

The judges didn’t buy that arguing, saying “Elane Photography’s argument is an attempt to distinguish between an individual’s status of being homosexual and his or her conduct in openly committing to a person of the same sex.” The problem with that argument, the court said, is that “people may base their judgment about an individual’s sexual orientation on the individual’s conduct. To allow discrimination based on conduct so closely correlated with sexual orientation would severely undermine the [law’s] purpose.”

Here’s the New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling in Elaine Photography v. Willock.

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