There is an article about a photography business in New Mexico that did not want to take a job photographing a lesbian wedding that got the electrons to start firing. This article can be an extension of another piece published yesterday titled “There should be provisions for those who don’t want to marry gay couples” where it poked a little fun at M.D. Harmon’s recent perspective about gay-marriage not being as harmless as people think. His point of view is that you have some business owners feeling the full weight of the media and the law when they refuse service to gay couples in their dream to get married legal or otherwise. The standing response to M.D. Harmon’s view from this column is “Why would anyone want a sourpuss at their gay wedding anyway?” Now it is time to take this discussion a little further and more serious.
Elaine Huguenin owner of Elane Photography in New Mexico has been put under fire about refusing service to a lesbian named Vanessa Willock who wanted to get married to her partner and asked this company to take pictures in 2006. Elaine Huguenin promptly refused on the basis of religious grounds because she does not believe in same-sex marriage.
Willock then filed a discrimination claim with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission and Elane Photography was made to pay $6,600 in attorney’s fees because her business was considered to be a “public accommodation” like a hotel or restaurant. This story was written by George Will in the Pal-item.com website and he makes it very clear that he has a huge problem with how this situation turned out.
The suggestion here would be to read the article in its entirety for full understanding because the whole event does get deep. You have UCLA big heads with major law degrees getting into the show and everyone is trying to find their justification, underneath the law, why what happened was fair or not. And yes, this whole situation with Elane Photography was a “right hook”, by a member of the LGBTQ, to send a message and that message is gay people will not back down or be run over. Willock could have let bygones be bygones and easily found someone else to take the pictures but she did not. George Wills made the victim seem like a bully.
Here’s the thing about it, equality does not happen by letting things stand as is. You have to stand up for yourself but speaking in the world of “should have” everyone should have equal rights to marry underneath the law but would you feel right if you force someone to provide a personal service when they don’t want to? Personally, you want someone that’s willing to give their best at specials events like weddings. You would not want a “kill joy”.
Don’t get this wrong, business is business and anyone with good business sense would know that serving a broader range of customers mean more money in their pocket. There should be no personal feelings of discrimination getting in the way when making money but would you really want to force somebody to do something they really don’t want to do or make their lives harder through litigation just to make a point?
We as gay people got to understand that some Americans just don’t want to share in the vision of equality. Just like gay people should have the rights to say “yes” to be legally married, people should have the right to say no to provide services for such occasions without retaliation. Everyone should have the right to be free and the liberty to be happy but should the gay community get off center because a business does not want to make a cake for our wedding or hold a bachelor party for a gay groom?
Discrimination is going to continue no matter what we do. It will become more subtle, just like discrimination of the black community, as more laws favor the will of the people. The LGBTQ must remember that our interests and lives are best served with those that support our community. Anyone that does not share the vision of equality should be seen as “people who do not yet understand the meaning of the true American Dream” and not combatants.