Christian photographer says she can’t refuse same-sex marriages as lawsuit crashes and burns

ByDavid M. Conte

Dec 18, 2021

A Christian wedding photographer who sued New York State instead of taking photos at same-sex marriages has lost her case.

Emilee carpenter filed a federal complaint in April, arguing that that state’s non-discrimination laws violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights because she “believes that God created marriage to be a joyful and exclusive union between a man and a woman.”

The photographer claimed she was forced to choose between going against her religious beliefs by photographing same-sex marriages or paying fines of up to $ 100,000 for breaking the law.

On December 13, US District Judge Frank P Geraci Jr of western New York City dismissed his case, saying “the court is not convinced,” according to NBC News.

“The crux of the Complainant’s claims is that her photography is the product of her unique artistic style and vision. Thus, an exemption for the unique and non-fungible services of the applicant would necessarily undermine, and not serve, the objective of the state, because it would “relegate [same-sex couples] to a market smaller than that enjoyed by the general public, ”said Geraci.

Carpenter had argued in the lawsuit that she did not want to take photos that might portray a marriage “negatively” or promote special occasions between “same-sex or polygamous” couples. She also argued that she “would not provide wedding photographs” for “irreverent themed weddings” – such as “Halloween or vampire themed weddings” – because she believes weddings are “offspring”. intrinsically religious and solemn events “.

The case says Carpenter received “at least seven requests” to photograph same-sex marriages in a year, but “declined those requests by not responding.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing evangelical law firm that designated as an anti-LGBT + hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, represented Carpenter. The ADF has fought several anti-trans and anti-abortion cases in recent years.

“The court ruling continues on the government’s dangerous path forcing artists to deliver messages that violate their religious beliefs – or by imposing hefty fines, shutting down their business or throwing them in jail,” said Jonathan Scruggs, lawyer principal of the ADF, in a press release. declaration.

LGBT + groups hailed the verdict, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis saying, “Non-discrimination laws protect every citizen and send the signal that everyone is welcome, and it’s good for business.