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Photographer Challenged for Denying Services to Lesbian Couple

Timothy Kincaid

February 28th, 2008

According to various anti-gay media including the Washington Times, Elaine Huguenin, a photographer in Albuquerque was brought before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission due to her denial of services to a lesbian couple. She is defended by Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay legal ministry.

When Elaine Huguenin of Albuquerque, N.M., declined in September 2006 an e-mail request from a lesbian couple to photograph their ceremony, one of the lesbians responded by lodging a human rights complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Division, the state agency charged with enforcing state anti-discrimination laws and sending cases to the commission to be adjudicated.

Because anti-gay media is notoriously prone to “error”, I am hesitant to assume that the facts are as stated in the Times, LifeSite, or the other propaganda arms of the anti-gay industry.

However, according to Francie D. Cordova, New Mexico Labor Relations Division Director, here are the bare facts of the case:

A Hearing Office conducted an administrative hearing whereby both the photographer and the complaining party were represented by attorneys. What occurred was a due process hearing and not an interrogation. The case was based on a denial of public accommodation. The Commission has not yet considered the case as the hearing officer has not rendered a recommendation.

I am not privy to any behind-the-scenes communication that led to the complaint. So we do not know what was said by Mrs. Huguenin or by Vanessa Willock, the complaintant.

But this case bothers me.

On one hand, I don’t think that denying services to individuals based on characteristics such as race, gender, orientation, or religion are admirable or have any basis in Christian faith (the reason purported to be behind Huguenin’s denial of service). I do believe that gay persons should be protected from discrimination in the public square.

One should not have the privelege – or so I believe – to bar the door of a restaurant, a barber shop, a grocery store, or a lunch counter due to bigotry or bias.

On the other hand, the type of services provided by Elane Photography require the personal services of Elaine Huguenin herself, at a specified time and place, participating in a ceremony that Ms. Huguenin finds offensive. This is not simply providing services to a gay person, among many persons, but rather it is imposing on Huguenin a level of discomfort that seems an autocratic interference in private business rather than a protection of gay citizens.

And I find the story to be a sad reflection on our society.

Elaine’s photography is, to my untrained eye, quite good. I can see why Ms. Willock would select her for the ceremony.

But what troubles me is that Christianity, as a whole, has become so hostile to gay people that it seems reasonable that faith would be given as a reason for not providing services. Would divorce, pre-marital sex, incompatible faith-affiliations, or a lack of religious adherence be any cause for denying service by Elane Photography? I very much doubt it.

And I am also troubled by an attitude that is inflexible of the sensitivities of others. Would it have been so difficult for Ms. Willock to choose someone else and let Huguenin and her biases alone? Does every slight require punishment?

I will be following this story and will report when more is known.

Comments

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TJ McFisty
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I am troubled–as well as uncomfortable about the imposition–as well as you. Definitely not alone in your opinion.

Ben in Oakland
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I am a wedding photographer, so I think I speak with some authority here. In this case, whatever her reasons, good or bad, I would have to side with the photographer. I think your analysis of the situation is bang-on, timothy. Wedding photography requires a good personal rapport with the clients, and it doesn’t sound like it would be that way in this case. It doesn’t matter why, nor do I think the women can rightly claim any injury as a result of bias. There are plenty of photographers who would say yes, and obviously a few that would say no, to a same-sex ceremony. I wouldn’t want to do these women’s wedding– and I am a gay man– because frankly they sound like trouble to me.

John
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

A business is a business. What would the response be if the photographer refused to do an inter-racial wedding? I don’t know the details of the case, but I suspect that there was some reason that the lesbian couple got so upset that they hired an attorney and decided to pursue this.

Angry words or hurt feelings can cause people to go overboard in lashing out at someone.

Priya Lynn
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I’m with John, if this was a situation where a photographer refused to do an interracial wedding would you be so eager to side with the photographer? I doubt it. It seems that even gay people are willing to rationalize discrimination against gays that they wouldn’t accept against a racial minority or religious group.

Barry
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I support the photographer’s right to NOT be forced into any situation whereby she would be made to feel uncomfortable.

a. mcewen
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I totally agree with you Timothy,

And it bothers me even further that thet anti-gay industry will try to say that the entire gay community is “intolerant” to Christians despite the fact many of us feel that the photographer has the right to refuse service.

They take cases like these and demonize us all.

Jim Burroway
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

As for the racist parallel that someone raised, I suppose if someone were to be uncomfortable with my hypothetical interracial wedding, I wouldn’t want them to be my photographer anyway. After all, we’re talking about an art form. What would the portraits look like from a photographer who really doesn’t want to be there?

This whole episode doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Ben in Oakland
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I don’t see this as a rationalization of discrimination against gay people. It is simply a recognition of what is– not everyone feels comfortable around a same sex wedding, and some people are just not able to challenge their own pre-conceptions and learn something they didn’t know before.

It’s not worth a court case.

My question would be: why would this couple spend more than 30 seconds of their lives on it? My gay clients, not knowing that I am gay when they call me, always ask me right out if I will be comfortable. That is the grown-up way to handle the situation.

Why would this couple want someone at their wedding who doesn’t supoport them and wish them well? It is bad enough when you have to invite your relatives who don’t, so why would you want to pay someone to do what your relatives will do for free?

In the case of the interacial marriage, I would think myself that such a photographer was a racist and a total asshole. In the case of this photographer, I think she is (without knowing anything else about the case) possibly a homophobe, possibly a religious bigot, and if the story is true on the face of it, a total asshole.

I wouldn’t hire her. I wouldn’t recommend her. But I certainly would do no more than to say, “Too bad. you could have learned something, but thank you for being honest.”

I look at the situation partly from a gay perspective, and partly from a businessman’s perspective. By pursuing this issue the way this couple is, instead of getting on with the happy business of planning their wedding, this couple has pretty much proved that they are the kind of people a careful businessman does not get involved with. I’ve had very few problem clients in 25 years of business– my 2% club– because I can see the troublemakers coming from a mile away, and I just don’t want to work with them.

This photographer possibly refused to work with the couple for many deplorable reasons, but at least she was smarter than they were. She knew that this was just not a good idea…what Jim is saying.

toujoursdan
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I have no idea what NM law is but the principle that business that operate in the public sphere must provide services to all without discrimination is established in most western countries. You’ll find such laws here in Canada and throughout Europe.

In Ontario, the law reads:

Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or handicap. [1981, c.53, s.1; 1986, c.64, s.18(1).]

Ontario Human Rights Code

In Canada, if you freely choose to operate in the public sphere and advertise a public service to the general community, you must provide the service to everyone who is eligible without discrimination.

If you want to pick and choose which people you want to serve then you can remove yourself from public sphere (i.e., advertising on mainstream radio, newspapers, billboards, TV or listing as a business in a general phone book) and market only in publications and media that serve a particular sub-community – like a Muslim newspaper or fundamentalist Christian radio stations.

Looking at her website, she makes no claim that she only serves certain groups of people – Christians, heterosexuals or whomever. She doesn’t even self-identify as a Christian. How would the lesbian couple know before contacting her? Why should they suffer because of this oversight on the part of the photographer?

It is a general business advertised to everyone in the public sphere. As such, in most western countries she would be bound by anti-discrimination laws.

Maybe Americans think differently, but I am glad that here in Canada I have the right to walk into any business and service and know that I will be treated like everyone else.

Ben in Oakland
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

By the way, if someone refused to serve me in a restaurant, I would be pursuing anything the law allows, because that is a public accommodation.

The law does not guarantee that i will be free of prejudice, only that I must be treated equally with all others. This is not a public accommodation, but a private relationship.

toujoursdan
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

No. It is not a private relationship; it is a public business.

homer
February 28th, 2008 | LINK

I’d like to see exactly what the photographer said to the lesbian couple. I’m going out on a limb, but my guess is that it was pretty nasty. If a response to a legitimate request for business services was some anti-gay treatise instead of a polite, “no thank you,” I guess I’d be dragging them to a hearing too.

Gays and lesbians are people and deserve to be treated in a courteous and respectful manner. We wouldn’t put up with a photographer denying services to a African-American couple because of their skin color would we?

Martin Lanigan
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy:

Does your discomfort arise because you feel that religious objections should enjoy a privileged position over non-discrimination laws?

While I am all for religious freedom – I draw the line at religious views or practices which cause harm to others. The minute harm occurs to others, I think we need to consider the possibility that religious rights may need to be overriden. IMHO religous rights are important, but they are not absolute.

I am not privy to the inside details of this case either, but denying someone a service in the public sphere because of their sexual orientation harms the individual and society. If such is the case, a religious defence is inadequate.

Leo
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

I’m with Tim on this one.

A waiter in a restaurant or sales person in a store can spend a few minutes providing me with service without having to become involved in one of the most important events of my life. A day that will be filled with intimate moments, a day that may be filled with particular religious ritual and implication.

Not so a wedding photographer.

I don’t excuse the photographer’s bigotry, but given the somewhat personal connection a good photographer needs to have with the couple and the day’s events what’s the point of this exercise?

The mixed race analogy is a bit of a canard in that most mainstream religions at this point accept them and practice them while most faiths still reject same sex marriage. Whether we like it or not our commitment ceremonies run counter to the teachings of many (if not most) mainstream denominations and so it’s not unreasonable to find members of these denominations who believe it’s a matter of faith to distance themselves from the practice.

There’s a right of association issue here. Let’s just say for the sake of argument the photographer is opposed to the ceremony based on some profoundly held religious beliefs of her own. She should be forced to provide services that are in violation of those beliefs? We’re not talking about a Dr. or a pharmacist providing life sustaining services. We’re talking about a photographer.

Let’s say we’re taking about an interfaith marriage. Christian and Jewish. And the couple approach a Jewish photographer who’s own beliefs makes him extremely uncomfortable with Jews marrying outside the faith. Should they legally compel him to take the job anyway? Should he have to photograph an event that offends, on some profound level, his own religious sensitivities?
This is not so cut and dry

If the photographer should loose her case and moving forward agrees to take on commitment ceremonies only to avoid litigation has anything been accomplished? What you’ll have is a photographer taking gay money while quietly holding the event in contempt.

I’d rather have the photographer be honest so I could take my business elsewhere.

Martin Lanigan
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

Leo:

Pratically speaking, I think most LGBT persons prefer to do business with queer positive businesses – particularly when a personal service is involved.

Practically speaking, you or I may choose to move on with life and ignore some form of discrimination that we might encounter. That is our right. We are not obligated to seek redress for every unjust act directed at us.

Nevertheless, I would like the option to seek redress if I am particularly aggrieved by an unjust act of discrimination. If I choose to do so, I would not be doing so for my benefit alone, but for all those who are, or might find themselves, in a similar situation. Let’s face it – it takes considerable emotional energy, time and money to seek any type of redress. Instead of criticizing these women, perhaps we should be thanking them for their public service.

I pose the same question to you as I posed to Timothy. From where does your discomfort arise? Are you not inherently seeking a super-privileged position for religion in your arguments? If so, why does religion warrant such a privilege?

CPT_Doom
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

So, if an emergency room physician (a relationship far more intimate than a photographer-client) were uncomfortable with gays and lesbians, it would be fine to refuse them treatment?

The point of anti-discrimination laws (assuming NM has one that covers the LGBT community) is that such services are offered to all, without prejudice. Thus a “Christian” photographer can no more refuse a same-sex commitment ceremony job based on their religious beliefs than they would a bar mitzvah or First Communion ceremony.

Let me give a comparative example. In CA, there is an anti-discrimination law that includes LGBTs. Yet in Palm Springs there are several bed-and-breakfasts that cater to gay men and are typically clothing optional. I asked the owner of one such establishment how he handled reservation requests from non-gay men (since the law works both ways, he cannot refuse reservations from straights). He told me (and the story he related was actually of an Orthodox Jewish family who had contacted him about booking some rooms) that he was very frank. He would certainly welcome them to the b-and-b, but explained that there would undoubtedly be gay men also there at the time, that the rules that people could be nude around the pool would not be restricted, and basically left it up to the family to decide. They opted for another establishment, which he recommended to them after they asked. No laws were violated, and all information was upfront.

The photographer could have taken that same route, instead of refusing the work. Simply explain to the couple that, of course she would take the job, but that she would be uncomfortable around the ceremony. If the couple still wanted her, they would have to deal with the discomfort during the day. Presumably they would have shopped elsewhere.

Now, the reality is it is very easy for racists or religious bigots to refuse to work with those who do not meet their alleged standards. They simply cannot express the real reason for refusal of service. Particularly in this instance, there would have been no need to alert the same-sex couple to the reason for the refusal, unless the photographer felt the need to prostelytize to the couple (which I agree is entirely possible to trigger such a complaint).

Jim Burroway
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

There’s a bit of a different angle here. This isn’t a restaurant, store or hotel, hence no “public accomidation.” What’s happening here is that a lesbian couple wants to hire (e.g. employ) an individual to perform work for them.

Is this to say that if I refuse to accept a job with an employer whose religious beliefs I find repugnant, I could be hauled before a tribunal?

Martin Lanigan
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

Jim:

Are you conflating employment and business dealings? No employee can be compelled to work for any employer against the employee’s will. No one is arguing in favour of that.

What we are saying is that if you offer your services to the public, you may not discriminate based on any of the normal grounds contained in most anti-discrimination laws.

And yes, if I am a gay photographer and I was asked to photograph an evangelical conference, I could not refuse simply on the grounds that I might disagree with Christian evangelism.

Priya Lynn
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

Leo said “The mixed race analogy is a bit of a canard in that most mainstream religions at this point accept them and practice them while most faiths still reject same sex marriage”.

So, what your suggesting is that mainstream religion be the decision maker as to what is acceptable discrimination and what isn’t? I don’t think so. Religion doesn’t get to dominate government and decide what’s right and wrong.

Timothy Kincaid
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

I think this situation trascends the issue of religious protection, to some extent. This is not, to me, a question of gay rights v. religious rights.

Assume for a moment that her objections were not religious (though that is her current claim) and that she simply though same-sex ceremonies odd and weird. Should she be forced to perform photography services?

If this were Olan Mills providing family portraits at the Sears in the Albequerque Mall, then this would be for me a no-brianer. Of course they could not deny services based solely on orientation. And if Elane Photography had thirty-five photographers on staff I would not hesitate for a moment to insist that they provide services.

However, it appears that Elane Photography is essentially the alter-ego of Elaine Huguenin. And it disturbs me that a governmental institution can insist that an individual do that which they find abhorent, no matter how bigoted or biased their reason.

So I am troubled. I don’t have an immediate and easy answer.

Martin Lanigan
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy:

The reason that there are anti-discriminiation laws that seek to protect certain groups is becasue these groups are the target of discrimination. The usual grounds are: race, gender, national origin, age, physical ability, religion, and orientation.

That someone does not wish to do business with you beacuse you are “odd” may or may not be a recognized basis for discrimination. I believe “oddness” is an intentionally vague ground on your part. If one discriminates on an attribute recognized in law, then one may not be surprised if the law attaches consequences to it.

I am really having trouble with why this is a difficult concept for some folks. If you believe that governments have a legitimate role in protecting vulnerable citizens, then why is this such a problem?

I hope you are not simply engaged in special pleading for religion.

toujoursdan
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

However, it appears that Elane Photography is essentially the alter-ego of Elaine Huguenin.

It’s hard to tell whether this is true.

Is Elane Photography registered as a business to state and local authorities? Does she pay business taxes and must she comply with other business regulations? I don’t know whether one can boil it down to the size of the business.

And governments make people do what the find abhorrent all the time :-) My neighbour is a US Vietnam War draft resister.

Zeke
February 29th, 2008 | LINK

Forget the photographer, what gay person wants to give their hard-earned money to a homophobe?

I really don’t understand this need that some people have to force homophobes to take their money. I don’t want to give my money to E-Harmony or that lawn service company in Houston Texas!

If this were a tax payer funded organization or a public accomodation I could see why a person would fight to get equal service but in this situation I would just expose the photographer as a homophobe to every gay person I knew and I would encourage gay people avoid giving her their business and their money. Then I would take my gay money and my patronage to someone who didn’t think I was a second-class citizen.

Ben in Oakland
March 1st, 2008 | LINK

Zeke– my point exactly earlier. But also my point, why are thse people spending even a moment of thir life on it?

CPT_Doom
March 1st, 2008 | LINK

If this were a tax payer funded organization or a public accomodation I could see why a person would fight to get equal service but in this situation I would just expose the photographer as a homophobe to every gay person I knew and I would encourage gay people avoid giving her their business and their money.

The point is, this is a public accommodation – it is a business open to the public. Even if, as I suspect, the couple most certainly did not want this bigot at their wedding, once they learned the truth, the law was still violated. No one is forcing the couple to hire this photographer, but she cannot arbitrarily decide not to take business because of her personal issues (assuming there is a law covering GLBT folks).

Timothy Kincaid
March 1st, 2008 | LINK

I think we should not assume that Elane Photography is a “public accommodation”. I was unable to find New Mexico law online but according to the Federal law, definition used for the ADA is:

A public accommodation is an operation that fits in one of the following 12 categories:

1. Places of lodging (e.g. inns, hotels, motels) (except for owner-occupied establishments renting fewer than six rooms);

2. Establishments serving food or drink (e.g., restaurants and bars);

3. Places of exhibition or entertainment (e.g. motion picture houses, theaters, concert halls, stadiums);

4. Places of public gathering (e.g. auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls);

5. Sales or rental establishments (e.g. bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, shopping centers);

6. Service establishments (e.g. laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, barber shops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accountants or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional offices of health care providers, hospitals);

7. Public transportation terminals, depots, or stations (not including facilities relating to air transportation);

8. Places of public display or collection (e.g. museums, libraries, galleries);

9. Places of recreation (e.g., parks, zoos, amusement parks);

10. Places of education (e.g. nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private schools);

11. Social service center establishments (e.g., day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies); and

12. Places of exercise or recreation (e.g. gymnasiums, health spas, bowling alleys, golf courses).

Because the law deals with access for disabled persons, the defitions may be skewed towards locations. But it appears that Elane Photography would not fit the above definition.

I guess we’ll have to see what the Commission says.

werdna
March 1st, 2008 | LINK

Thanks, Timothy, for making the point that there is, in fact, a concrete legal issue here that I’m pretty sure most of us are ill-equipped (unless there’s a New Mexico civil rights lawyer lurking) to discuss.

Here’s a link to the full text of the New Mexico law:
http://www.nmcpr.state.nm.us/nmac/parts/title09/09.001.0001.htm

You’ll find that “public accommodation” is defined as:
“any establishment that provides or offers its services, facilities, accommodations or goods to the public, but does not include a bona fide private club or other place or establishment which is by its nature and use distinctly private.”

It seems that the question of whether Elaine Huguenin is subject to the law depends on the legal meaning of “establishment.” I don’t know what that term means in New Mexico state law, so I won’t offer any guess.

Regardless of the particular law in this case, it is worthwhile to discuss the question of how widely anti-discrimination law should apply. I think that’s what a lot of the comments here are really about–people’s opinion of what the law should cover. Should it apply to any free-lance professional or only to business of a certain size, with a certain number of employees or a certain form of public representation? Does having a website mean you’re sufficiently in the public sphere? How about businesses that offer their services exclusively on the internet (e.g., online match making services)?

These are all interesting and important questions, but they are seperate from the more narrow question of whether this particular person violated a particular statute when she refused to take a gig photographing a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.

Given the sketchy details we have, I am really curious what Ms. Huguenin could’ve said to the women that made them take it to the Human Rights Division. I’m also intrigued by the involvement of the Alliance Defense Fund and what it might suggest about this case. It possible that Elaine Huguenin deliberately provoked the women as an opportunity to challenge the New Mexico law? That’s pure speculation of course, but when a group like the ADF is involved my alarm bells start ringing…

The ADF is certainly pitching the story as a question of “religious values” vs. “special rights” for the gays. It certainly wouldn’t be much of a defence if one were to claim one’s religious values prevented one from offering services based on a customer’s race, religion, national origin, etc. It seems to be only in the case of sexual orientation that this argument has any purchase. Do we give more credence to religious values that hold that homosexuals are sinful than to those which hold that Jews are responsible for Christ’s death or that non-white people are inferior and should be shunned? Do we think that any of these beliefs, however deeply held, can be an excuse for discrimination?

mallory
March 3rd, 2008 | LINK

ho·mo·pho·bi·a Audio pronunciation of “homophobic” ( P ) Pronunciation Key (hm-fb-) n.

1. Fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men.
2. Behavior based on such a feeling.

i, in fact, know of this photographer and she is most gentle and kind and quite free spirited. her response to these women was, in fact, very polite and reasonable, but honest and up front. i believe she might have even offered to find another photographer for them. this woman does not have a fear or hatred or contempt for homosexuality. she just doesn’t agree with it. that doesn’t equal hate, it means not agreeing. she, based on her own beliefs-just as the two woman have their own belief system, simply could not represent herself supportive of their union because she believes differently on marriage than they do. she was not hateful and was not in fear of them in a phobic way.

would she ask to be moved to a different table at a cafe to avoid sitting by them? NO. would she yell out vulgar profanities to a lesbian couple holding hands at a park or a concert? NO. but when asked to be involved in a religious ceremony that goes against what her religion tells her, did she have the right to not agree or support it? YES…

you can love others and treat them kindly and humanely but still hold fast to your value system. i can disagree with how a couple raise their children, does that make me hate them? NO, it means i don’t agree with their ways. say i have a muslim neighbor. our kids play together, we carpool, we have dinners together, we talk politics and religion and share recipes and trade back good books back and forth or share a cup of coffee in the morning at one another’s house. would i, who is not muslim, if invited, attend their mosque or pray with them at their friday prayers? NO, i don’t believe what they do. i can still be their friend and have a lot in common and share life with them but i don’t have to agree with their belief system and they don’t get to lawfully force me to or vice versa.

denying inter-racial couples? are we in the 50′s again? i think not. that hypothetical example seems a bit of a stretch for this argument. the idea of inter-racial couples marrying or not is not even a biblical argument. it is not there. i had wished our society was passed that kind of discrimination, but maybe not. that is unfortunate. that is not even in the bible. the bible does, though, go against the idea and not support even a heterosexual union, where a believer is marrying a non-believer. this photographer probably would not have felt comfortable at that kind of wedding either, because she would not support that un-yolked union based on her beliefs.

this woman is anything but vulgar and offensive, she is not an asshole just because she sticks to her morals. she has the freedom to do that. calling her an asshole is a cheap shot at trying to assume that she is mean or a total bitch. since when is someone a bitch for voicing their opinion? exercising one’s freedom of speech does not make you a bitch. it makes you free. if it did, these other women would be bitches too. and obviously that is not fair or true. being hateful and mean makes you a bitch, being a woman, a human being for that matter, with a set of beliefs does not. without knowing the real facts or knowing the photographer personally, those kind of personal attacks are meritless.

this idea of attacking her in her personal beliefs in this certain case is like accusing her of being a segregationist. this isn’t what she is doing. she is not asking to ride a different bus (separation), she is simply saying that she takes a different route because has a different destination than you. it is like saying, back when there was the awful idea of segregation, you have to use two different water fountains (belief systems) and you must not inter-mix them (avoid one another)…is that what this is? NO. there is a sharing of a water fountain (life and community) now, so glad we are passed that. but when in line at the fountain (life) you can’t tell someone how to drink from the water fountain. you don’t get to tell the person ahead of you in line to use the taller one instead of the kiddie one or hold down the button this way or that way….you do it your way and i will do it my way. you may not even like water fountains and drink your bottled water and that’s fine, whatever the case..you can’t hold my head down and make me drink the water the way you do or vice versa…but when you are done, i will come after you and drink it the way i feel comfortable and believe to the best for me.

too many legalistic christians have given christianity a bad name and there is a blanket idea wrapped around all people who follow christ. this in unfair, but it happens. if you truly are a follower of christ, you accept all people and love all people and walks of life. jesus did. does that mean you have to agree with the lifestyle choice of your neighbor. NO. they don’t have to agree with yours. no thank you and move on. you can accept others without accepting their practices as your own. i wish it were all this easy but i am not naive and i know sadly there are so many out there fighting for their voice to be heard, because they are feeling marginalized by society and hated by others…that kind of hatred and bigotry makes me sick and goes against christ’s idea of loving your neighbor as you would want to be loved…that kind of mean spirited behavior comes from ignorance and fear….and not understanding the concept of grace.

this is not the case here. i wish we lived in a society where when she said no thank you, the women said ok, we get it- to each is own, we understand and want to find someone who would be thrilled to celebrate with us…and not have to feel the need to punish the photographer for her own beliefs and drag her reputation through the mud. but we don’t. we live in a world where people are persecuted for the way they live…but sadly and quite ironically…that is, in fact, what is happening to this photographer now in the courts.

Ben in Oakland
March 3rd, 2008 | LINK

Mallory– your message is both fair and supportive, and I have posted supporting this photographer and questioning the women involved. Nevertheless, there is something to consider here.

Does elane do Jewish weddings? If not, does she state her religious beliefs as the basis for her opposition? If so, Why is this different?

As a Jew, I reject the Christian story, and as a thinking human being, I reject Biblical morality. This bothers the religious beliefs of no one but the most rabid fundamentalist, nor would any but the most clueless dare say so in public for fear of rightly being called a religious bigot. But let me say that I’m gay and reject just this tiniest part of conservative Christian belief, and suddenly, religious beliefs are offended, the people who hold them are “persecuted”. What is the difference? The word bigotry comes to mind. It amazes me that religions disagree about the nature of God, and their history is written in blood. But gay people–well, they finally have it right.

So, to say that she is entitled to reject these women as clients because they are gay, but not entitled to because they are Jews, represents a logical inconsistency.

Martin Lanigan
March 3rd, 2008 | LINK

mallory – one of the big problems for all of us here is that many of the facts of this particular case are not known. You purport to have inside knowledge to some degree – a claim that is impossible for us to validate in this forum. As werdna has also pointed out, NM law is also a bit of an unknown for many of us. I am guilty on this point.

If the photographer simply relayed her views about equal marriage – well – there is no crime in that. But it seems she not only expressed misgivings about equal marriage, but also refused to provide a service.

Practically speaking, the photographer might have legitmately refused service for any number of reasons (e.g. already booked etc..). It appears, however, that a refusal was given and the reasons were “religiously motivated”. If this is the case, then the photographer’s act was inherently political. Essentially she is saying “I am so confident in my right to discriminate against you that I may do so openly and with impunity. My religious views exempt me from either obeying the law, or acting tolerantly towards you.” To my mind, the actual laws of NM are secondary to the question of whether or not unjust discrimination has occured.

As werdna points out, the involvement of the ADF also raises red flags.

This is an interesting case. In my view, some Americans appear to view discrimination through the lens of racial segregation. I have seen many instances in this thread where folks talk about lunch counters, hotels, buses and drinking fountains. But discrimination in 2008 is much more subtle (at least where I live). Nevertheless it is every bit as exclusionary towards LGBT people today as it was to black men and women in the 1950′s. It is this social exclusion that harms LGBT people and the community at large. Such exclusion says LGBT people are lesser citizens and not deserving of even tolerance.

I respect that there may be different interpretations – but in the end discrimination is discrimination. It needs to be called out and LGBT people should not be afraid to assert themselves and insist that they be treated as full citizens.

Rach
March 4th, 2008 | LINK

Expect to see more of it as our country moves in the direction it is
moving. I just heard a case yesterday where some local DJ’s were suing
over age discrimination. They were in their 40′s and 50′s and said
they were fired because of their age. A radio station can no longer
tailor its show to a particular audience because they might be slapped
with age discrimination. Soon they will be so afraid of being sued
that they will have 80-year-olds doing a morning show geared for 20
year olds, regardless of whether or not they are good at it.

Who’s to say why they are fired? The people suing should bear the
burden of proof – that is to say, they should have to PROVE beyond the
shadow of a doubt that the intent of the defendant was to purposely
discriminate, and not some other reason.

I would be afraid to run a day care out of my home and tell a black
woman I couldn’t watch her son. The reason I won’t is because he’s a
brat, not because she’s black. But because she’s a minority in today’s
society, she can take that and run with it.

See what I mean? Our freedoms go out the window; stuff gets more and
more expensive because no one wants to get sued.

Ah, the new America.

I desperately need a chocolate chip cookie.

Loud Mouth Broad
March 4th, 2008 | LINK

1. New Mexico DOES have a law that protects homosexuals from discrimation. If a company CHOOSES to conduct business in New Mexico then they must abide by New Mexico laws.

2. This complaint is not against an individual, but against a COMPANY. (According to her public records, this company is registered as a Limited Liability Company) Once the photographer identified herself as a COMPANY, civil rights are out the window. She CHOSE to do business in New Mexico, therefore she should have educated herself on New Mexico laws before intentially violating that state’s law.

3. The photographer could have said, “No thanks” as suggested by many others in this string. Even, “I’m washing my hair” would have been an adequate response. The fact is that the photographer would not provide pricing or availability information due to the fact that the couple is gay. That violates the New Mexico Civil Rights Act.

4. Free speech isn’t a viable defense because Huguenin wouldn’t be required to upload the photos to her website, or display them anywhere. All she would really have to do is provide pricing and availability information to Willock. It’s doubtful that upon meeting Elaine that the lesbian couple would WANT to hire her as a photographer. It’s a matter of discriminatory exclusion, which is ILLEGAL IN NEW MEXICO.

I’m actually a little shocked by some of the posts on this site. We should be standing together. Perhaps the fact that we are so divided speaks to why we have not achieved equality in ANY state.

I shall step down from my soap box now….

John
March 12th, 2008 | LINK

I’m not a lawyer. And like you I don’ t trust that the facts of the case were presented accurately and completely in the places it’s been reported, which have a political agenda.

However, I am someone much like this photographer: a self-employed person providing professional services for clients (in my case, interactive marketing services). And I’m not a “public accomodation” – I’m more like a contract employee.

I certainly would not want someone telling me that I have to provide search optimization to boost traffic to an anti-gay web site, or that I have to help an anti-abortion group launch their blog, or that I need to help develop an online marketing strategy for a group pushing an anti-marriage amendment.

The responses that ask “what about a barber shop? or a restaurant? or an emergency room?” miss the point. We all know that these situations are different. The material on the NM public accommodations laws are interesting; the laws need to reflect distinctions that we, are intelligent people, are able to make, not force us to stop making them because laws are written too crudely.

Of course, I’m not a lawyer. I’m interested to see what the commission in New Mexico does with this one, though.

Clarfication
March 17th, 2008 | LINK

As a close, personal friend of the accused, I know exactly what transpired. Albeit unvalidated on this forum, I can assure you of some of the details. (All of the details will be paraphrased for the trial’s sake, but the general feeling will be intact.) Her response to the request is as mallory previously described. Kind, yet truthful to her thoughts. She declined due to conflict of belief, but did offer to help them find another photographer in the area just as good/if not better. Does that sound homophobic to you? A homophobe would not have wanted to have anymore communication with requester. Yet she was going out of her way to aid them. She simply could not photograph it herself. To my understanding, the conversation was rather short and no proselytizing occurred. As previously mentioned, her website does not blatantly express her religious beliefs, for the express purpose of not wanting to “shove it down people’s throats”.

Previously posted were comparisons to other services including emergency room physicians. As John just posted, these are unequal comparisons. As a trauma surgery PA, I can assure you that I have treated more LGBT people than most of you have every met. But remember as mallory said, it is not the people Christians are against, its the choices. Very different and distinct things.
Therefore, I have no trouble treating them as I would treat anyone else, with kindness, compassion, and empathy. If they asked me what I thought of their actions (which some do surprisingly), I take the time to speak with them as long as they wish to listen.

On the other hand though, I would not photograph one of their weddings. These are not the same because there is a difference between past and present. With my trauma patients, they are not actively engaging in outward activities of their lifestyle choice. If they were to ask me to provide them a condom to have safe sex in the hospital, for may reasons I would decline, one of which being my beliefs. There would be no active role for me in their lifestyle choices. On, the other hand wedding photography is, I feel, a much more intimate field, which requires the photographer be an active part in the process. I feel sorry for anyone who had a wedding photographer who didn’t feel intimately involved with the couple, as this is a large reason for her success: She takes every picture as she would want in her wedding. The lawn service in Texas and e-harmony were mentioned. Put those to the past/present test. Lawn service is silly to not service LGBT people. It is providing no direct support of choices. E-harmony is though. Support the people, dislike the choices. (I do not wish to get into a debate on nature vs nurture here either.)

And to the responses that said: “she should have said no thanks, and left it at that”. For one, she never planned on having this conversation. Had she planned on it, your could call her a homophobe. Hindsight is 20/20 my friends. Second, have you ever felt so strongly about your convictions that you would regret not speaking what your know to be truth? Honesty, as they say, is always the best policy; to use an old adage. Would her not stating why have made this all go away? Maybe.

Remember it’s a few isolated cases in America that get laws made. (example: terri schiavo, roe vs wade) How many times do you think those cases occurred prior and after those laws were passed? And yet those people chose to move on and find greener pastures. That alone makes me wonder if they weren’t looking for a fight. But that is merely speculation.

This indeed is a gray area. The need for laws on this matter is a sad case in my humble opinion. But, unfortunately, we don’t all treat each other with respect and decency that every human deserves. I agree that this has been taken too far by the accuser, as many have posted. But, I am grateful that some resolution will come of this one way or another. I have a feeling (unsubstantiated) that is will continue on to higher powers than New Mexico.

All this was to shed some more detailed light on a confusing matter. None of what I have said should be taken and written on stone, but should serve as enlightenment into the minds of one side that seem to have poor representation on this forum. For obviously reasons, they themselves will not engage in these debates.

Timothy Kincaid
March 17th, 2008 | LINK

Clarification,

You seem to think that homosexuality – ie. the attractions one has – are some kind of choice. Your repetitive use of the phrase “lifestyle choice” suggests to me that while you like to view yourself as a compassionate person, your primary goal here is to be confrontational and offensive.

You may not wish to debate “nature v. nurture”, but if that is the case then don’t bring it up. I would not go to your site, accuse you of something, and then say, “I don’t want to debate”.

Further, you seem to believe that your opinions about “the truth” can override common courtesy. I very much doubt that you would so disrespect a minister of another faith by insisting on telling him “the truth”. I doubt that you would be so arrogant to your neighbors who are Jews or Muslims. Yet you see gay people as less than you, someone with whom their humanity, dignity, and respect is less relevant than your “truth”.

I don’t doubt that you are probably a pleasant person. And I’m sure you think you are doing what is right. But your presumptions (which you arrogantly place beyond debate) illustate an attitude of self-righteousness and condescention.

If you are much like your friend Elaine Hueguinon then I can sense the motivation that Vanessa Willock had in fighting this issue.

Clarification
March 20th, 2008 | LINK

You are correct Timothy, I do believe homosexuality is a choice. The reason I asked not to debate that issue, is because from the postings I have seen previously, it would be a very long discussion with no benefit at the end of it. I have had many of these debates, as I’m sure you have, and I’m sure you have seen the same as me that these always end in personal experience. This is because there is very little science to back-up either side. Personal experience is, in today’s proof driven world, not enough to come to a logical conclusion. I fear, we must unfortunately agree to disagree on this. But I will keep an open ear to further postings on the matter.

And truly homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, as well as gender, religion, skin color, etc. In today’s advanced world we are free to choice what lifestyle we so wish. Look at Michael Jackson or any female who was once a male. They face hardships, but they have chosen. In one way they are overcoming adversity. There was no accusation there. These words were necessary for clarification of the present trial.

Again my reasoning for posting this was to answer some of the questions that I have seen floating around on this forum topic. I never said you’d like my answers or even agree with me. I merely wanted to lend the information I knew, and the things I perceived to your decision-making process.

Your knowledge of the Christian faith is lacking on at least one point. It is by nature a religion of exclusion. Christ said he is the only way to God. Any Christian who says otherwise isn’t following their Bible very well. Therefore, if it came down to it, I would tell a Jew or Muslim they are wrong in their world view. Just as they have told me I am wrong. Universalism, and universal truth (whatever is true for you is truth), is a very tolerant ideal (or following) which is something that goes against Christianity. Interestingly, Christianity is one of the few, if not only, religion that is so exclusive in their beliefs. (Admittedly, I don’t have a good backing on this, but have merely hear this multiple times. If anyone has light into this that would be great. But I don’t want to hi-jack the thread either.)

You are correct in saying I had no intention of coming across self-righteous and condescending. I again, am merely sharing what I see and hear. I have no problem with anyone on this forum, and “I would not go to your site, accuse you of something, and then say, ‘I don’t want to debate’”, but for the fact that the topic is the trial of a friend. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had a reason to post on this site if this trial hadn’t occurred. I have actually, because of this, perused the site and found much of it very interesting and insightful. I really appreciate the objective focus the editors achieve in most postings. So forgive me for ruthlessly invading your space with my different ideals.

Seriously though, I ask for forgiveness for things I have said that came across condescending or hurtful. I don’t repeal any of it, but am truly sorry it was hurtful. Just as you would, being a compassionate person, feel bad for harming someone with your words, even though you feel justified in speaking them.

As for your last comment. Please remember that the conversation that took place was a minute fraction of the time we have spent in conversation, albeit writing. There is no way that Elaine could have said near any of the things I have said in that timespan. Nor would she have, as the place/time/reason were inappropriate for proselytizing as we previously mentioned. Therefore, Ms. Willock could not have had the same motivation as you obviously, currently do toward me, Timothy. Elaine is indeed much more humble and compassionate than me. But that may just be my tainted opinion.

Thank you for replying. It’s good to hear how things you have said affect others (for good or bad).

Martin Lanigan
March 20th, 2008 | LINK

Clarification writes:

“Your knowledge of the Christian faith is lacking on at least one point. It is by nature a religion of exclusion.”

Christianity is many things, but one thing that it certainly is not – it is not a monolithic religion open to a single interpretation. I find it very interesting that so many anti-gay Christians insist that their interpretation of Christianity is THE only interpretation.

I just wanted to clarify that for Clarification’s sake.

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2008 | LINK

Clarification,

There are no two sides to whether same-sex attraction is chosen. All credible persons and organizations, from the AMA and the APA, to ex-gay groups and the Roman Catholic Church, are in agreement.

People may differ on what they believe is the moral response to such attractions, but orientation is not chosen. We will not “agree to disagree” on this matter unless, of course, you agree to disagree with all rational thought.

The etiology of sexual orientation is not yet fully understood, but at present it appears that genetics and non-genetic aspects play some role. We do not know if all factors are biological (eg. hormones within the womb would be non-genetic biological factors) or whether some physical or emotional environmental factors also come into play.

I encourage you to research this matter more before you decide to dismiss the personal experiences that others bring to the table. And if you have any desire for truth, avoid anti-gay advocacy sources. While gay sites are often biased, I’ve found anti-gay sites to be blatantly untruthful (Paul Cameron, etc.) There are a number of secular authorities who don’t “have a dog in the fight” – none of them believe the “choice” notion.

Clarification
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Martin,

It may be that I just got off a 13 hour night shift, but I’m confused as to what you were getting at with your post. So I’m going to make some assumptions for time’s sake, but please let me know if I’m off track here.

I’ll assume you weren’t talking about what the original quote was discussing, in that Christ is the only way to God. Because as I’m sure you know (I’ll say this for everyone else on the forum), all the denominations and even the Roman Catholic Church attest to the sovereignty of Christ.

That leaves me to believe you were pointing out how silly anti-gay Christians are because they would say all Christians are against the homosexual lifestyle/orientation. (That hyphen’s for you, Timothy :-))

Now, if thats what you meant…..No one said that. I’ll be the first to say there are different interpretations of scripture, hence different denominations. The first applicable thing that comes to mind is the recent ordaining of homosexual ministers in the Methodist denomination.

No one in their right mind would ever insist that their’s is THE only interpretation of scripture. Now some may assert that their’s is the only correct interpretation of scripture. Given that distinction, does that make them crazy? No. Just the opposite. If they didn’t assert that their’s is correct they would be clinically insane. Why would anyone attest to and follow a belief, if they don’t think they are correct?

Please let me know if I missed the ball on this one.

Clarification
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

Ya know, after much thought, the orientation vs action idea might not be so hard to swallow. I’ll have to do some looking into it, though. The only way I think I could take it, is that it is considered part of the depravity of mankind (fall of mankind). We’ll see. Hey at least I’m open.

Since you brought up hormones, has anyone ever seen any research done on homosexuals and their current hormone levels v. heterosexual controls? That would give some credence to that idea.

Timothy Kincaid
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Clarification,

There is a difference between believing that your faith is where God has led you, and in believing that you are absolutely correct in interpretation. If you believe the latter, then there is to room for the moving of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, too many conservative Christians believe that they are absolutely certain without a shadow of doubt that they are aware of God’s complete and perfect will. Ninety nine percent of the time this certainty comes without any study, any research, any prayer, or any thought.

And if anyone disagrees with what they “know”, they dismiss it as worldly, self justifying, and possessing liberal anti-Scripture theology.

But the truth is, Clarification, that Scripture is FAR from clear on this issue. And many people who started the journey or research began with the assumption that God unequivacably condemned all same-sex relationships as sin… and then found that this belief could not be supported by Scripture.

The problems with holding to tradition on this issue are twofold: in the Old Testament all such prohibitions seem to be tied to temple practices or to prohibitions we no longer observe (mixed fiber fabrics, dietary laws, etc.); in the New Testament, Paul deliberately avoided langage of the time that was used for same-sex relationship and instead choose to coin his own phrases or use ambiguous terms. Those anti-gay translations that seem so clear in English are, at best, guessing about what he meant. A thoughtful Christian might even come to believe that this word choice was God-inspired so as to allow ambiguity and reinterpretation.

Along with this, we have a number of Scriptures that seem to counter anti-gay theology, including the words of Christ about sexual minorities and one of his miracles (the Roman Centurian’s pais – or beloved same-sex concubine). There is even strong argument that the first example of Christian evangelism was not to a heterosexual.

Some theologians dismiss this train of thought, though some, such as Gagnon, have to contort their theology in knots to do so (going so far as to claim that the Roman Centurian was neither Roman nor Centurian).

Christianity is not in agreement on this issue. Some find it difficult to find justification in Scripture for a moral sexuality that is outside marriage-penis-vagina, regardless of what Christ said. But it appears that more and more thoughtful scholars are finding that anti-gay positions in religion seem based to a greater degree on bigotry than on what can be found in the Bible.

You need not agree with them.

But my point is, that to dismiss this as “depravity” illustrates a shallow understanding of Scripture, of the Bible’s moral sexual code (and its evolution), of historical context, of Greek and Hebrew, and of the motivations behind English translations.

I’m not seeking to convince you of my interpretation. That would take far more time and space than we have here. However, I encourage you to recognize that to believe that your interpretation is correctwithout even the slightest effort at study – does a disservice to God and His children.

Timothy Kincaid
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Clarification,

There are no statistically relevant variances in hormone levels between heterosexual and homosexual persons.

There is a hypothesis that hormones in the womb during certain developmental stages may account for variance in sexual orientation. This could explain the birth order effect (the more male sons a woman has, the higher the likelihood that he will be gay – regardless of whether he is raised with his brothers or not). This has not been proven or disproven.

For a good synopsis (though a little outdated) of current research into the biology of orientation see here.

cowboy
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

With all due respect to Clarification: I doubt he has any real acquaintances whom are gay. His environment probably already has a chasm between he and “us”. I’ll venture a guess, aside from only casual greetings and waves “hello” to anyone he knows (or thinks may be gay), maybe he really should sit down and have a chat with a gay person…preferably with a gay couple to share a dinner together.

With Mr. Kincaid’s admonition to research some things and Clarification’s desire to be more “open”, I think what Clarification might gain from a true sit down huddle with some varied gay people might prove worthwhile.

I’ll volunteer to pay for the dinner!

Martin Lanigan
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Clarification,

You stated that Christianity was an exclusive religion. I simply pointed out that this claim is false, at least in as far as LGBT persons are concerned.

To restate the point of my post: many anti-gay Christians pretend that all Christians agree on the inherent sinfulness of homosexuality. That is not the case and there are many Christian denominations that do not share your viewpoint. I am glad we can agree on that fact.

Clarification
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

Thanks for delineating all of that for me.

“However, I encourage you to recognize that to believe that your interpretation is correct – without even the slightest effort at study – does a disservice to God and His children.”

I believe I said I would look into it. Also as previous said, to follow something, and not believe it is correct, is insanity. Therefore I must continue to believe my convictions in the midst of being open to the possibility of being wrong and researching to those effects. As I hope you do the same. If my research yields anything, I’ll pop back on and let you know!

I used to debate people on any topic, any time. I have since learned that there are 2 requirements to have a healthy, productive debate. 1. Both parties must be able to honestly say to themselves, “I could be wrong.” Without this, there is no productive debate, as know one will learn anything from each other. 2. Both parties must hold knowledge of both sides, to at least some degree.

There are some things within any religion that one must take on faith, that logic will not prove in your lifetime. I don’t think homosexuality is one of them, which is why I’m willing to research and listen. But it is sometimes the moving of the Spirit that will allow you to take some things by faith.

“But my point is, that to dismiss this as “depravity” illustrates a shallow understanding of Scripture, of the Bible’s moral sexual code (and its evolution), of historical context, of Greek and Hebrew, and of the motivations behind English translations.”

This I’m find hard to swallow, not sure why, but I’ll get back to you on that. Might be the Spirit leading.

Remember the Mormon’s when the said it was God’s leading (or His will) to kill the Utah Indians? Why does the Spirit lead two people to interpret Scripture in two different ways? Are both of them correct? Frustrating questions, I know.

Clarification
March 21st, 2008 | LINK

Cowboy,

Your interpretation of my environment is far from correct. I do not feel the need to delineate my entire life situation to you, but I will say, for the sake of credibility, that my Aunt is a lesbian, with whom I remained close.

Thanks for replying.

Timothy Kincaid
March 22nd, 2008 | LINK

Clarification,

Yes it can be confusing as to who is hearing the Spirit correctly, especially if the two positions are in direct opposition. I guess the important thing is not to use our certainty in our faith as a tool of oppression.

Ottoman
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy,

By denoting that being gay is perhaps based on hormone levels at birth, and that being gay is not a choice, are you calling being gay a birth defect?

People, especially gays, talk of gay-dar. No matter where you are in the world, no matter how a person was raised, one can very often pick out gay people from across the room.

Looks, style, movements, etc.

Gay men with high voices, lesbians with low voices. Effeminate men, masculine women. I am not talking about hair styles, clothes, etc, but actual male features on a female and the opposite.

So are you stating that you believe gay is a birth defect?

You state it’s not a choice. If it’s not a choice, is one born gay? You give medical/science reasons? If it’s not a choice, and results in the inability to procreate, as well as feminine features on men, and masculine on women, is it not a birth defect?

One thing is for certain. If everyone was born gay, the human world would cease to exist within about 115 years. Whether you believe in God, in some supreme being or in evolution, no form of understanding as to how we are here relates to homosexuality.

That being said, I am not against gays in any way. I have many gay friends and believe in fully equal rights for gays. I work in an arena frequented by gay people and do so happily. I am far from homophobic.

But I do not believe that famboyance, being overtly sexual (gay parades, for example), or segregation from the rest of the world (gay clubs, bars, gyms, etc) is right, either.

I do believe that being gay shouldn’t offer or reduce anyone’s rights, just as being Christian shouldn’t. Nobody should be forced to work for anyone, and no others belief (homosexuality) should take precedent over another’s personal belief (religion).

Additionally, so many of my gay friends hide their being gay, while at the same time defending the rights and slamming anyone who accuses them of being gay. If they can’t be honest with themselves and except who they are, publicly, how do they expect others?

Reminds of me of Eliot Spitzer, Larry Craig, Jim Baker, etc. All were publicly very anti the exact things they were doing.

Ottoman

Jason D
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

Otto,
Not all gays and lesbians have gay-dar, nor is it foolproof. It’s based on a gut feeling, not watching how someone walks or talks.

“But I do not believe that famboyance, being overtly sexual (gay parades, for example), or segregation from the rest of the world (gay clubs, bars, gyms, etc) is right, either.”

Flamboyance is a personality trait. Some people are just extroverted like that, gay or straight, and I don’t think it’s really something to judge. You don’t have to like it, but calling it “not right” is a little silly.

Have you ever been to a gay pride parade? It’s not any more sexual than what you’d see at Mardi Gras, or at the beach on a summer day. If you go to the one in Chicago, you’ll notice most of the people marching are wearing t-shirts and shorts, and a good deal of them are with religious, teen outreach, and social groups. If they weren’t wearing pink triangles or rainbows you wouldn’t know they were in a gay parade at all.

Gay clubs/bars were a safe haven, and in some parts of the world – still are. It’s also a place where gay people can go to flirt with other gay people without the fear of being beaten or killed. That self-segregation is in reaction to a hostile world.

Where are there gay gyms? There aren’t any in Chicago.

Ottoman
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

Jason,

A few comments:

1) I was not and did not exclusively denote only gays having the much bemused “gar-dar”. I am a hetero and I can often tell a gay person from across a room. Of course, you’d never know many are gay. My point was simply that that some are born with the traits of the opposing gender, hence making it a nature situation.

2) I have been to the gay parade in San Fran and Chicago, and I have seen things taking place by participants (people in the parade) that are plainly illegal under IL and CA law.

3) I literally laughed out loud at your comparing a day at the beach or Mardi Gras to a gay parade. Both are not hetero only events, as gay parades are gay only (or of the vast, large majority). Additionally, no organization of the acts, approval or exclusion occurs at the places you mentioned.

If there was a national hetero parade, celebrating hetero sexuality, you’d have a direct comparison.

4) As for flamboyance, I expressed my opinion, you expressed your opinion on my opinion. Both are purely opinions. I find over-flamboyance to be wrong, hetero or gay. If someone wants to be accepted, they have to act acceptably to the general public. Act differently, and don’t be surprised if you are not accepted.

5) I used to hang out (out grew my youth) in gay bars in the Pacific North West, as they were the best dance clubs and I liked the music, atmosphere, etc. I understand your points and accept it, but these gay created places separate gays fro the society in general and any time this happens (women’s only clubs, etc) it hurts chances of acceptance.

6) No gay gym in Chicago? Ever heard of “Cheetahs” on Clark? It’s listed in all the gay pubs as a gay gym. There are gay gyms listed in most major cities. Sure, some heteros go in, just like gay bars, but it’s a gay gym for sure.

Otto

TJ McFisty
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

If it’s not a choice, and results in the inability to procreate, as well as feminine features on men, and masculine on women, is it not a birth defect?

Who says that gays can’t procreate? Being gay doesn’t necessarily preclude one is infertile.

One thing is for certain. If everyone was born gay, the human world would cease to exist within about 115 years. Whether you believe in God, in some supreme being or in evolution, no form of understanding as to how we are here relates to homosexuality.

Now, I know you’re probably a nice person and all, but this particular statement always gets my hair up in knots. Repeat after me: “Hets do not have a monopoly on having children.” We have modern conveniences as well as the fallback positions in which to carry on this well overpopulated world so don’t worry about becoming extinct.

Jason D
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

“6) No gay gym in Chicago? Ever heard of “Cheetahs” on Clark? It’s listed in all the gay pubs as a gay gym. There are gay gyms listed in most major cities. Sure, some heteros go in, just like gay bars, but it’s a gay gym for sure.”

Check your facts:
1) Cheetah Gym (no “s”)
2) They all closed in september of 2007.
3) Advertising in a gay publication means it is open and accepting of gay people. If you look at the link I posted in number 2, the description of the gym says nothing about gays. In fact if you use that search feature at metromix chicago and look for “gay gym” you get no gym listings.
4) I suppose you’re going to try to tell me the Bally’s and the FFC in that area are “gay gyms” simply because they exist close to gay bars or pubs. There is a difference between a business that welcomes gays and one that is “for gays”. Again I ask, “What gay gyms?”

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on the parades, I’ve been to the parade every year since 2001 and I have yet to see anything happening on the floats that is illegal (there are officers every 2 feet!). Sure, there are drag queens, how are they any different than Santa Claus, Clowns, or any of the other costumed characters at Christmas, Easter, St. Pats, or (yes) Mardi Gras.
Again, the gay pride parade is not gay-only. It is a celebration of our Pride and unwillingness to be ashamed of who we are, but we do not tell straight people they can’t come and can’t participate. A good deal of the sponsors send employees who are no doubt heterosexual. GLSEN participates (that stands for gay, lesbian, and STRAIGHT education network, btw).

Timothy Kincaid
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

Ottoman

I particularly dislike those who come with anti-gay bias and homophobic presumptions but try to hide them behind a pretense of openmindedness and objectivity.

You clearly have a strong desire to assume that gay persons are more “flamboyant” and that gay persons in a pride parade behave more inappropiately than heterosexuals at Mardi Gras. And nothing we say will dissuade you from your presumptions.

So I won’t try.

Ron
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

I would like to know where I can send a donation for Elaine Photography to help with legal fees.

Timothy Kincaid
April 10th, 2008 | LINK

Ron,

You needn’t worry about Elaine Huguenin. Not a cent is coming from her pocket. This is a cause célèbre for anti-gay activists and her legal services are being provided free of charge by the Alliance Defense Fund.

If, however, you wish to contribute to an organization that advocates in opposition to equality under the law for gay persons and that seeks to advance discrimination, I’m certain that there are quite a few that will gladly take your contributions. I won’t be providing a list.

Equality Loudoun » What’s really at stake in the Elane case?
April 15th, 2008 | LINK

[...] be able to sort these things out without taking up positions behind the barricades. Here is a real-life example of how that reality can be handled 1) without violating the law and 2) without being insulting. [...]

Carol Anne
April 17th, 2009 | LINK

I am a lesbian. I believe in equal opportunity and equal rights for all. Still, as Timothy Kincaid wrote above, “Does every slight require punishment?” No, not when the slight appears to have been sought out.

Vanessa Willock is a University of New Mexico staffer, an EEO Compliance Representative with the Office of Equal Opportunity, where she investigates claims of discrimination and sexual harassment.

I cannot believe that Vanessa Willock innocently inquired about the services of Elane Photography. The lesbians and gay men I know try to hire LGBT and LGBT-friendly professionals. It’s not hard to find them.

I think that Vanessa Willock deliberately pursued rejection on the basis of sexual orientation so she could take this business before the New Mexico Human Right Commission. It was a set-up.

mike penney
October 4th, 2009 | LINK

Whatever happened to the appeal on this case?

Timothy Kincaid
October 5th, 2009 | LINK

Mike,

I don’t know. I’ve not had success in my efforts to find either follow-up information or the right authorities with whom to inquire.

James
June 8th, 2012 | LINK

Keep going Elane. It’s sad to see what our country is coming to. You were not being discriminatory at all. Your rights to property and liberty are being violated by the government. The first amendment was created to protect religion from government, not the other way around. The day we start forcing businesses and people to do things against their own choice is the day our country goes straight to hell.

Richard Rush
June 8th, 2012 | LINK

James, it would have been much more accurate to say, “The first amendment was created to protect the people from religion, not the other way around. The day we start forcing businesses and people to do even more things against their own choice is the day our country goes goes straight into accelerated decline.”

In today’s world, the people whining about losing their coveted religious freedom and liberty are really whining about losing their freedom and liberty to trample over everyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

Michael
July 29th, 2012 | LINK

This case was won because the offense claimed a non-sequitor similarity; a black person at a restaurant is not the same as a gay couple demanding you sit there taking photos of them kissing.

Several examples to think about, when this case or one like it moves to the Supreme Court, which certainly one will:

1) A female can refuse to do her abortion by or choose to be seen by a MALE OB/GYN.
The male OB/GYN must perform his services on any one that steps into his office, as long as it is legal and she is of sound mind.

2) A taxi cab driven by a white man can not refuse to pick up a black man.
A taxi cab driven by a black man can not refuse to pick up a white man.
A white man can refuse to be picked up by a black driver, and turn him away.
A black man can refuse to be picked up by a white driver, and turn him away.
In the latter two situations, no one can be sued for discrimination.
Is discrimination happening? Yes–but not on the side of the business.

3)In several locales, prostitution is legal.
Can a female prositute refuse to service her ex-husband? Yes.
Can she refuse to service a black man? Certainly.
Can she refuse to service a Chinese man because of his attitude? Of course.
Can she refuse to service a white guy in a wheel chair because she doesn’t like men with no legs? I should say so!

4) Gay people are not a PROTECTED CLASS. Black people are. Smokers are not a protected class. Not accepting smokers in your service does not mean you do not accept black men. It means you do not accept smokers.

5) You can turn anyone away from your business because of “loss of trust”; especially in a doctor-patient relationship. This case has a loss of trust because taking photos is something intimate. Viewing the photos is also something intimate. If either party does not want to do this, the service is compromised.

6) Some “services” are more personal than others.
Buying a shirt at Wal-Mart is not the same as screwing someone cause you are a prostitute.
Photographers too, provide a personal service.

The jury here was deceived by a good lawyer when the defense counsel was simply ill-prepared. This case would get stomped on by the Supreme Court. We are allowed to have our personal preferences, religions, and hates.

I don’t mind gay people. This female “couple” here are not gay. They are ligitious faggots. I would close up shop and not pay them a dime.

Photographers:
Protect yourselves in the future:
When a gay couple calls and wants photos done. Tell them “Yes”; you’ll do it. However, state “I disagree with the gay lifestyle”. Then take shit photos.

This whole case reaks and the Constitution is hanging by a thread. These are truly the latter-days.

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