NM Wedding Photographer Who Refuses Gay Couples Taking Case to Supreme Court

Lawyers for Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin (pictured), who refused to photograph the commitment ceremony of Vanessa Willock, a resident of Albuquerque, on the grounds that same-sex marriage conflicts with Christian beliefs, is taking her case to the Supreme Court.

ElanephotographyThe New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that Elane Photography was violating the antidiscrimination provisions of the New Mexico Human Rights Act in August.

SCOTUSblog writes:

The couple, Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, have summed up their views on the issue in this statement, excerpted from a legal brief in the state supreme court:

“Jonathan and Elaine are Christians, and as such, they believe the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.  They also believe that preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman is ‘the best way to order society.’  Thus while the company wants to create photographs that tell the stories of weddings between a ‘bride and groom’, its policies prohibit creating images that convey an understanding of marriage that conflicts with Jonathan and Elaine’s beliefs.   Jonathan and Elaine believe that if they were to convey a contrary message about marriage, they would be disobeying God.

“Elane Photography does not refuse customers because of their sexual orientation.  Crucial to the company is the message conveyed through its photographs, not the sexual orientation of its customers. Therefore Elaine will not create photographs of heterosexual polygamous weddings just the same as she will not create photographs of same-sex ceremonies.  And she will decline to create photographs telling the story of a same-sex commitment ceremony even if the ceremony was part of a movie and the actors playing the same-sex couple were heterosexual.   On the other hand, Elaine will create portrait photographs for and provide other services to people who identify as homosexual so long as the message communicated through her pictures does not conflict with her beliefs about marriage.”

Their planned petition to the Supreme Court will seek to convince the Justices that their photographic work is a form of artistic expression that conveys messages, and it will argue that enforcing the New Mexico “public accommodation” law in ways contrary to their views compels them to express messages they do not embrace and interferes with the free exercise of their religious beliefs.


  1. PAUL B. says

    What a sweet picture of a couple of bigots. Their convenient religious convictions are BS and it’s going to come back and nip them from behind. The courts have a nice way of usually seeing through the “religious convictions” defense…bye bye Elane Photography.

  2. One of the CA 36,000+ says

    Well, Elane, if your crappy photography is a form of “artistic expression”, you shouldn’t be accepting money from your subjects.

    They are models and should then be paid by YOU for their services rendered.

    If, however, you are offering your photographic services for a fee, you are offering a public accommodation. Therefore, you ARE subject to New Mexico’s antidiscrimination laws, you stupid Xtianist c!nt.

    By the way, you and your horsefaced husband are as ugly outside as you are inside. Enjoy bankruptcy and living under an Albuquerque overpass, beeyotch.

  3. Bernie says

    and I say go for it! I doubt their silly case will be heard by the Supreme Court and their so called “position” is still discrimination……ie…..There are people that don’t like Turbans, Jews, Asians, Muslims, tattoos…Should they too be discriminated against??

  4. Taylor says

    Does the photographer take engagement pictures for heterosexuals who have been living together in a sexual relationship prior to the engagement? Do they take photographs for people who are remarrying after a divorce, when said divorce was for reasons other than adultery? Do they photograph children born out of wedlock?

    If so…they would be condoning non-virgin brides and adulterous marriages, and bastard children.

    My guess is that they photograph these folk with no questions asked..and without protestation. Which simply makes them HYPOCRITES!

  5. Timitheos says

    When you open a business, it’s open to the public. You don’t have to like gay people. You don’t have to marry one. But when you open a business to the public, it’s open to the public. I hate fanatical religious extremists, but I can’t tell them not to come to my restaurant. At least this illustrates how intolerant religion is in America. If you think that preaching intolerance, in God’s name, is gonna get you closer to Heaven, you’re sadly deluded. You’re free to hate whoever you want, but if your business is NOT open to the public, you should cease advertising it to the public, and start passing out business cards to your congregation. If you only want to photograph Christians. The Bible says that we should kill the adulterers. Do you believe that too? Jesus must be rolling over in his grave.

  6. Lars says

    I’m of two minds on this.

    1. Elaine seems to have clearly violated the state statute. Their submission to SCOTUS is cleverly crafted, but it can barely hide the fact that they denied services on the basis of sexual orientation. That bit about straight actors staging a same-sex ceremony is a nice try, however. I’d love to any documented occurrences of that splendid hypothetical.

    2. But speaking as someone who is planning his own wedding, I can not for the life of me understand why I would want to compel someone who hates me to photograph the most important day of my life. Yeah of course it’s the principle blah blah blah. So what. There are other anti-discrimination battles that make a lot more sense.

    Unless these are literally the last photographers on earth, why the hell would I want them f*cking up my special day with their perverted worldview??? A lawsuit won’t change their minds; it will merely force their odious presence at an otherwise joyous celebration.  And if they are there under duress, will the produce their best work??

    I’m a strong believer in non-discrimination statutes/litigation…but this particular suit seems misguided.

  7. will says

    Aren’t you guys going to accuse the husband of being a closet case — like you did with Jake and Mackelmore — and just about everybody else? You “he’s a closet case” trolls are slouching! Get to work!

  8. Brian1 says


    I agree this is a totally different level of engagement than the various bigot bakers who refuse to bake a cake. This photographer is going to be front and center in your ceremony, reception etc and they have ample opportunity to mess it up if they want. And it would just be creepy for everyone knowing the photographer hates everyone there.

    I think the best way to handle it for these religious crazies is to say quite clearly that they don’t like gays, are against gay marriage etc, but they’re law abiding citizens so if you really want your photos taken by someone who hates you they’ll oblige. I would hope that would steer any potential conflicts away and the photographers wouldn’t have to break the law.

  9. Joe says

    These vicious little homophobes deserve to have their business SHUT DOWN immediately. They’re not fit to take anyone’s wedding photos. And it’s truly laughable that SCOTUS would take their case.

  10. anon says

    @LARS… @BRIAN1…

    What likely happened in this case was that the same-sex couple was not aware of this photographer’s hatred before approaching them to hire them. Once the bigotry was revealed, the right way to proceed is to go hire someone else who does want your business, but to also bring the lawsuit against the bigots. This serves two purposes. It lets others in the area know about the bigots so they won’t make the same mistake of trying to hire them. And, it punishes the bigots appropriately for their disregard of the anti-discrimination laws.

  11. Tigerama says

    Why do Christians think that other people are endlessly fascinated by their beliefs? This has to do with discrimination, not your sky god. Do whatever you want – but sorry, you can’t run a business where you only serve blue eyed people either.

  12. FakeName says

    Jonathan, if God really loved you he would have given you the ability to grow a decent beard. And no, I don’t mean Elaine…well, I don’t just mean Elaine.

  13. Sargon Bighorn says

    If a Camera shop refused to sell cameras and related equipment to the Photography store, and said it was because they did not condone Christianist-what-ever and it violated their deeply held faith, the NM photography business would be up in arms and SCREAMING discrimination. When they do the SAME thing, it’s a matter of religious freedom. What crap.

  14. Art says

    Out comes “they’re bigots.” Haven’t heard that one in a while. I think “our way or the highway” might be more appropriate. And of course the ridiculous “Gaydar” aspect. Pity Diane Arbus wasn’t available to take the pictures. She could make a ton of money these days on gay wedding pictures.

  15. Jason says

    Idiots — “They also believe that preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman is ‘the best way to order society.’ ”
    There’s a lot of things I’d like to change to better my idea of society but the law doesn’t allow me to. Their religion clouds reality to the point of denial. They need to get shut down.

  16. MiddleoftheRoader says

    Doubtful that the US Supreme Court will hear this case, which is easily understood if you read the NM Supreme Court decision.

    1) The complaint was filed against a “business” that is a separate legal entity, “Elane Photography, LLC”. The complaint wasn’t filed against Elane as an individual. That’s important because a recent federal court case in the Third Circuit specifically said that an employer that is a corporation has to follow the new health care law requirement to provide contraception coverage for its employees. The court said that a corporation is not a person, and therefore a corporation does not have religious rights. Ditto for Elane Photography, LLC — an LLC is a separate legal entity and an LLC cannot have religious rights.

    2) The NM Supreme Court stated that Elane Photography LLC did not contest the fact that it is a “public accommodation”. So the question then becomes whether “public accommodations” have to be provided for same-sex marriages — not whether Elane (the individual) has to perform photography. This sounds like a technicality, but it’s important (however, the Supreme Court said in the Boy Scout case, DALE, that sometimes public accomodations must give way to First Amendment rights of an entity — but the Boy Scouts were a non-profit entity with a ‘message’ and ‘philosophy’, and they were not a for-profit business.

    So, barring a big surprise, these NM bigots will have to abide by the law. Perhaps they want to go into “non-profit, religious” photography — maybe then they could discriminate. Maybe.

  17. Tim says

    Gay marriage was legalized in June. It hasn’t been quite four months. The impact will come later. All of you may find yourselves sitting on bottles, like in Russia. The future is an unknown at this stage, but I’m sure your bitchy, mean and hateful victories will not get you where you think you’re going. One thing they left out in all this rights war. Gays are not nice people. Gay males are vindictive bitches.

  18. Key says

    It’s a business, not an artistic endeavor. They should treat all customers equally.

    On the other hand, let the grapevine spread that this company is bigoted, and there are many straight people who won’t give them their business (like me.)

  19. Bob says


    These bigots never seem to say “As you know, it would be illegal for me to turn you down, but my heart would not be in it” — they stomp all over you with their Christian-ness, then claim to not be respected.

  20. says

    Nothing about anti-discrimination laws prevents bigots from still being bigots, in fact these laws pose no threat to the Sanctity of Bigotry.

    If you offer a product or service to the general public the law says you may not exclude persons based on certain criteria. The decent people have decided that one of those criteria is sexual orientation.

    They can still go to their hate clubs on Sunday morning and be holier than fags.

    I guess it sucks to be a bigot in New Mexico. Great news!

  21. ratbastard says

    This is a silly drama. FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER who won’t have a problem. This couple have a right to abide by their conscious and belief. Why pick a fight with them? Publicity? Landmark court case? It’s sh*t like this that give ‘advocates’ a bad name. No court should be wasting time on this BS suit. There are plenty of photographers who’ll be happy to photograph a ceremony.

  22. Rich705 says

    The prohibition in the old testament is not to sleep with someone of the same sex.

    Was this photographer asked to sleep with the two brides, or was her husband asked to sleep with the two grooms?

    No, they were asked to take pictures, not to have hot homo sex with the happy couple getting married.

    This is a clear case of discrimination and has been settled in case law and state law for many years.

  23. Tim says

    Pathetic response Litper. And tired cliche I might add. You can’t deal with contrary response. You need the meds. You’re still under the illusion that gays are all the same. One happy “family.”

  24. FC says

    Can you imagine if these dickwads took pics of my gay marriage? Every picture will be of the floor, gum under the tables, out of focus blurs of the two grooms and self-portraits of the photographers giving the finger to the camera. No thanks.

  25. Jim says

    This isn’t even a gay marriage case, they were illegal in New Mexico. This is about a commitment ceremony, where’s the biblical teaching on commitment ceremonies? They just don’t like gays, just be honest.

  26. jsb says

    @TIM – Gays are not nice people. Gay males are vindictive bitches.

    Speak for yourself, I know lots of “nice” gay people, men and women. It looks like the only “bitchy, mean and hateful” I see is coming from YOU.

  27. m.r. says

    Tim is obviously a disgusting troll considering he’s referencing the Russian gay young man who was forced to sodomize himself on a bottle by anti gay thugs. Tim praises these rapists as he whines about gay people not being nice. Tim, FYI no one needs to be nice to a piece of trash like yourself.

  28. m.r. says

    Tim is obviously a disgusting troll considering he’s referencing the Russian gay young man who was forced to sodomize himself on a bottle by anti gay thugs. Tim praises these rapists as he whines about gay people not being nice. Tim, FYI no one needs to be nice to a piece of trash like yourself.

  29. says

    Their painfully nuanced argument, that they are not discriminating based on sexual orientation, has been struck down by every court that has looked at it, and it will be struck down by SCOTUS should they take it up.

    “Elane Photography does not refuse customers because of their sexual orientation. Crucial to the company is the message conveyed through its photographs, not the sexual orientation of its customers.”

    So if a gay man just married a woman, everything would be fine!
    But sorry, it’s kind of the definition of sexual orientation that you would only marry someone of your own sex, as anyone with a mind realizes.

  30. says

    The New Mexico Supreme Court addressed their arguments and ruled against them, correctly. They should save themselves trouble and move on.

    Bigoted business owners should be obligated to advertise their biases to save gay people (or whoever the business owner happens not to like for whatever personal and irrelevant reason) the hassle of engaging with a business that is pretending to abide by state law but really isn’t. There are perfectly legal ways to weed out clients but not if you keep your prejudices secret till you get called on them.

    The whole artistic argument is BS. As someone else said, no one outside of Mary’s family is going to plaster their walls with Mary and Steve in their bridal glory.

  31. jjose712 says

    anon: Exactly, you don’t have to know the beliefs of the people you hire.
    Once you face discrimination, you sue them and then find people who don’t hate you to do the job

  32. Rob says

    Gay is the new Jew. Christians used to refuse service to Jews, and that practice did not go down without a fight. It formed the basis for all anti-Semitism in Germany. Treating Jews fairly would conflict with one’s devotion to God. It’s only a hop skip and a jump from there to genocide, where Jews and gays met their fate side by side. Protestants have refused to serve Catholics, and Puritans wouldn’t feed Quakers at their inns. “No Irish need apply.” The history of discrimination in our country is long and brazen, yet it keeps rearing its ugly head. If you’ve ever read “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss, you know the impulse is in our DNA. Every “we” needs a “they.”

    Your freedom of religion protects where you go on Sunday, and what words you can utter. But Monday morning when you go to work, let me tell you how it’s going to be.

  33. thom says

    They wear the same smugness of all of their ilk….their expressions show: “We are Christians. We hate the sin but not you”…which by the way, is one of the biggest and lamest expressions ever created!
    It merely gives these people a “pass” on being able to hate, nothing more. They are, hopefully not representative of others who are people of faith. They “hate” adultery but will certainly do business with adulterers, won’t they? They are cherry-pickers about sin as all zealots are. Why stop at gays? There are a multitude of sinners out there….If one of your prospective customers eats shellfish ort pork, are you going to deny them the pleasure of using your lame photo business as well?…(insert cricket sounds here_____)… Naw. Didn’t think so. swrt.nagREad Levitcus

  34. jamal49 says

    Another example of whiny christians insisting that their “religion” gives them special rights to discriminate against other people. With each passing day, I come to loathe and despise christians more and more.

    @Tim, honey, let’s get together real soon. I’d love to show you just how not-nice, bitchy and vindictive I can be as I smack you upside your closeted, pithy, punk head with my special anti-buttboy baseball bat.

  35. Matt N says

    Ah, I see. They don’t discriminate against gay people, just against non-man-woman couples. So, if a pair of straight guys wanted to marry, they would refuse them as well. Seems fair to me.. lol… right

    Quoting SCOTUS again:

    “A tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews.”

    Perhaps the photographers should do some reading. CLS v Martinez is a good start.

  36. AG says

    If my parents won’t love or accept me then no gay people should be accepted, ever. You can’t force conservatives to photograph you just like I can’t force my parents to hug me.

  37. Buster says

    “Lawyers for Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin …. is taking her case to the Supreme Court” ???

    and proof-reading are a way to avoiding silly sentence like these!

  38. JC says

    Regardless of anyone’s opinion about what they’re doing is right or wrong, private businesses have the right to discriminate against people. If customers don’t like their policy, they should try to get others not to support the business.

  39. says

    @JC: It was a public business, and the NM Supreme Court already ruled against them, so, no, it isn’t just our opinions and, no, they don’t have a right to discriminate under NM state law.

  40. Jerry6 says

    Having been a semi professional photographer for close to 20 years, I did photography, and was paid for my efforts, for some people that I would never consider having an ongoing social relationship. Frankly, I seriously doubt that there is a single person on this Earth that does not dislike certain other people for some reason or other; BUT, what does that have to do with the running of a “For Profit” business? Frankly, I would relish the enjoyment of taking money from someone I did not particularly like. Why let someone else get the money?

  41. Jerry6 says

    @TIM It has been said before – “Me thinks thow doest protest too much”. I am sorry that your approaches to gays resulted in rejections. Maybe you need some counseling on how to “Make friends and,Influence People”.

  42. Jerry6 says

    Having financed my non GI Bill college expenses with photography, I know from experience that not every negative is going to contain a perfect image. Therefore, when it comes to FORCING a bigot to photograph your Wedding, please do not expect the results to be what you would show your friends, let alone to even want to save for yourself. It takes very little effort to make sure every shot you take looks like a monkey at the zoo took it.

    Believe me,you cannot win this one. Get another Photographer.

  43. Pablo Cruize says

    All you Gay Rights Nazi’s remember in the end Ernst Rohms and his Gay Brown Shirts were executed in in The Night of the Long Knives and Himmler instituted the arrest and greatest mass executions of Gays in world history. Your useful idiots and pawns for tyranny and destruction.

  44. Kyle says

    1. The comments on this story truly show how loving, open-minded, and tolerant the LGBT community is.

    2. Time for me to host a Muslim conference focused on the benefits of heterosexual relationships, ask a gay caterer to provide the food and a gay photographer to take pictures, and then sue them for denying service to Muslims. WIN.

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