A Christian photographer who declined to shoot a same-sex ‘commitment ceremony’ has been told by a court in America that she must “compromise” her beliefs to accommodate other views.
In 2006 Vanessa Willock approached Elane Photography, owned by Elane and Jonathan Huguenin, to request that they photograph a ‘commitment ceremony’ between herself and another woman.
But Mrs Huguenin, who is based in the US state of New Mexico, turned the job down saying it conflicted with her and her husband’s Christian beliefs.
Miss Willock found a different photographer for her ceremony but still filed a complaint against Elane Photography.
The case has made its way to the highest court in New Mexico where it has ruled against Elane Photography ordering Mr and Mrs Huguenin to compromise their beliefs and photograph same-sex ceremonies.
Justice Richard C. Bosson wrote: “At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others”.
He added: “That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people”.
“In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship”, he said.
Representing Elane Photography, the Christian legal organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said: “Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country. This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free”.
The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling from a lower court.
Earlier this month a Christian bakery hit the headlines after being put under investigation by state officials because it declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in Oregon, USA.
The owners of “Sweet Cakes”, Aaron and Melissa Klein, said they were trying to protect their religious conscience when they refused to sell a cake to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer for their gay wedding.
Mr and Mrs Klein have received death threats, hate mail and have lost half of their customers since the incident in January.