By DEXTER DUGGAN
PHOENIX — The U.S. Supreme Court may have thrown another blistering ingredient into the stew for this fall’s elections across the nation when it refused to review the case of a New Mexico wedding photographer being coerced by government to violate her conscience.
New Mexico is known around the Southwest for its tangy chile harvest as summer wanes.
However, the burn of the chile peppers may be nothing to match the flare of voter anger in November with another element added to public resentment against an elite that contemptuously has imposed Obamacare and other arrogance on an unwilling populace.
Elane Photography in Albuquerque had been hauled through legal persecution after Elaine Huguenin, due to her religious beliefs, declined in 2006 to photograph a “commitment ceremony” of two lesbians. On April 7 the nation’s High Court declined to review a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court against the freedom of conscience of business owners Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin.
The liberal Los Angeles Times reported the April 7 story with its expected leftist slant: “In a victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from a New Mexico photographer who claimed a free-speech right to refuse to shoot a wedding album for a same-sex couple.”
Remember when radical homosexual activists used to ask smugly, “How does my same-sex marriage hurt you?” Their intent all along was to steamroll their foes, and the answer how it hurts everyone else becomes painfully plainer by the day.
The Wanderer asked conservative Republican Arizona political strategist Constantin Querard about the potential for the judicially imposed “marriage” issue to increase retaliation by voters this fall.
“I don’t know that it will be a powerful enough issue all on its own,” Querard replied, “but it certainly contributes to a greater sense that government and ‘the system’ is out of control and that strong measures must be taken to save the republic. That will drive voter turnout to a very large degree.”
Asked if he was surprised the High Court declined the New Mexico case when it “presents a very timely question on fundamental rights, including religious conscience” — a reference to the current push by homosexual extremists — Querard said, “Not sure why they didn’t hear this case, but there are similar cases in the pipeline, so I’m hoping they’ll eventually resolve the question.”
Hardly for the first time, the Supreme Court seemed to use a strategy to ignore people’s constitutionally guaranteed rights while in effect affirming a denial of them.
In an April 8 telephone interview, the lead counsel representing Elane Photography, Jordan Lorence, told The Wanderer, “I was surprised [the court didn’t take up the case], and I did think the case presented a great opportunity for the court to talk about” issues in the current debate.
Lorence serves as senior counsel in the Washington, D.C., office of the internationally active Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The New Mexico Supreme Court had used “faulty logic” in assuming Elane Photography “would always take everybody’s picture, no matter what the circumstances,” until it declined the lesbian ceremony, Lorence said.
In fact, he said, Elane previously declined doing business with a horror movie that wanted to show “blood and gore,” as well as refusing to do newborn photos showing both mother and baby nude.
He said ADF was advocating for rights in this case that protect everybody, but no one in New Mexico has this protection now.
There are similar issues in other cases that haven’t progressed as far legally yet, Lorence said, and if ADF is successful in them, the result would protect the New Mexico photographer.
Another case involves a Kentucky T-shirt printer that “with great frequency will turn down” job requests to put libelous or copyrighted material on shirts, but trouble began when it declined to produce shirts for a “gay-rights festival,” Lorence said — even though the company provided contact information for other companies that would produce the shirts at a better rate.
Other cases involve a Colorado baker and Washington state florist who did business with homosexuals, he said, but declined to provide services for “same-sex” ceremonies.
Legal cases in this area “are not only going to expand in numbers, but spread to other situations . . . not only retail businesses that deal with customers,” Lorence told The Wanderer.
He gave the example of a Catholic social worker at a high school in Maine who appeared in an ad in 2009 supporting traditional marriage when the issue was on the state ballot.
Two complaints were filed against the Catholic man alleging that he violated “professional ethics” by expressing his opinion, but a state licensing board backed off from taking action against him when ADF came to his defense, Lorence said.
However, today one would wonder about the outcome, Lorence said, because “[b]asically . . . you are shamed to the outskirts of society” for expressing an opinion in defense of traditional man-woman marriage.
“We’re seeing marriage rapidly change, the judge just decreeing it on people,” Lorence said, adding that the question is moving “over into First Amendment rights….I’m concerned as to where this is going.”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states a guarantee of rights including free expression of religious belief and freedom of speech.
In a video regarding the Supreme Court refusing to take the New Mexico case, Alan Sears, ADF’s president, CEO, and general counsel, said, “The injustice is difficult to overstate” because the issue is about government forcing citizens to communicate a message against their will and their beliefs.
“To add insult to the outrage,” Sears said, one of the New Mexico court justices had said that the Huguenins surrendering their freedom is “the price of citizenship.”
Although the Huguenins essentially are at the end of their legal options, Sears said, “The trail blazed by Elane Photography will not be in vain.”
Lorence told The Wanderer that anyone facing one of these conscience situations should contact ADF (alliancedefendingfreedom.org) “or some other religious liberty organization,” and not just submit to pressure to compromise their beliefs.
The ADF web site had a message by another of its attorneys, senior counsel David Cortman:
“Americans oppose unjust laws that strong-arm citizens to express ideas against their will. Elaine and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are not willing to promote any and all messages. A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to her own convictions is a government every American should fear.”