"This ruling is perilous because business owners do not surrender their First Amendment rights at the marketplace gate."
The Alliance Defense Fund appealed the case of a photographer exercising her freedom to decline to do business with a gender-segregated couple. ADF is committed to appeal Elane Photography’s case all the way to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary. ADF also warns that lawsuits that infringe on Americans’ First Amendment rights will increase in states that legalize same-gender marriage.
The ceremony was for two women in Taos, and the court agreed that Elane must pay almost $6,700 in attorney’s fees to the complainant—even though the couple found another photographer to record the event. The owners of Elane Photography had declined to photograph the ceremony because the message communicated by the ceremony conflicted with their Christian beliefs.
This ruling is perilous because business owners do not surrender their First Amendment rights at the marketplace gate. A speechwriter is not engaging in “religious discrimination” when he declines an offer to write a speech attacking Catholicism or defending atheism. A black videographer who declines to film a Ku Klux Klan rally is exercising her right of conscience, not engaging in racial discrimination against white people. The First Amendment protects the right of people to refuse to promote a message they oppose.
Even those who support legal recognition of same-sex unions should support Elane Photography in this case. If the government can punish these two business owners for declining to promote a message with which they disagree, then the government can punish any business owner for holding convictions that aren’t in vogue.
Free speech: the freedom to say "No."