Albuquerque, N.M. (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court on April 7 rejected an appeal from a studio that refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, letting stand a New Mexico high court ruling that helped spur a national debate over gay rights and religious freedom.
The justices left in place a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling last year that said Elane Photography violated New Mexico’s Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph the same-sex ceremony “in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”
Elane Photography co-owner Elaine Huguenin said taking the photos would violate her religious beliefs. She said she also has a right of artistic expression under the First Amendment that allows her to choose what pictures to take, or refrain from taking.
The case has been cited as legislators in other states have proposed exempting people from such lawsuits if doing business with same-sex couples violates their religious beliefs.
Arizona earlier this year passed such a law, but Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed it under pressure and blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.
Similar religious-protection legislation has passed in Mississippi, and been introduced in Ohio, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Idaho and Kansas.