Take Pictures For Me Or I will Sue You? / by James Shanks

I just read about this disturbing ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court that said a photographer that refused to take pictures at a same-sex ceremony had violated the couple's rights and that they could not refuse the work and had to pay the couple's legal fees (even though they hired someone else to photograph the wedding. Duh, why on earth would you want to hire a person that is opposed to the very event taking place?!) I find this disturbing on two levels - one, that there are so many people opposed to same sex marriage (but that we knew) and two, that this photographer could have lost this case meaning that they were legally obligated to take the pictures even if they didn't want to!

I am all for same sex rights. I think it's a no-brainer. As the ad I once saw said, "If you are opposed to gay marriage then don't get gay married." If you are opposed to it for religious reasons then fine, but you can't impose those reasons on other people that don't share your beliefs (not in the United States at least.) Now the reason why I don't think these sentiments are applicable in this case is that you are asking a person to actively participate in your ceremony against their will. If this photographer had a storefront and accepted walk-ins for portraits and then refused you would have a case and I would be all for it (similar to how the ridiculous bill that Arizona passed is an embarrassment to this country and all it stands for) but that is not the situation here.

As a photographer, don't I have a right to not take work from organizations that I am opposed to or from people that I find abhorrent? If a white supremacist group contacted me wanting me to do work for them I can tell you right now I would not do so (an unlikely scenario to be sure but just to make a point.) So, according to this ruling, could that group then sue me?! I can see the westboro babtist church getting dollar signs in their eyes now at all the people they can sue who refuse to do business with them. I shudder at the precedent...