Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Slate: no, that New Mexico wedding photographer's 'religious liberty' wasn't violated in the gay wedding case

Mark Joseph Stern, writing in Slate, explains why private discrimination against LGBTs isn't "religious liberty":
     ...Consider a recent case in New Mexico, where a Christian photographer refused to take photographs at a gay wedding, citing her personal distaste for same-sex marriage. Although 85 percent of Americans support her right to refuse, the New Mexico Supreme Court held unanimously that, as a private employer, the photographer must photograph both gay and straight weddings under the state’s Human Rights Act.
     Legally, this ruling was correct; the photographer offered her skills solely as a business service, not as a form of personal expression. It’s the equivalent of a taxi refusing to pick up a gay couple, or a restaurant refusing to serve a gay family. Yet it’s easy to sympathize with conservatives who argue that the photographer’s religious liberty and free speech rights were violated. Isn’t the basis of liberty the freedom to value one’s own beliefs over those endorsed by the state? And isn’t it quintessentially American for private businesses to choose their own customers?
      Actually, it’s not: Imagine if the photographer had refused to photograph an interracial wedding rather than a gay one. Her behavior would be so clearly reprehensible that it’s hard to imagine any American defending it...

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