Most weeks, it is my joy and privilege to bring you stories of God-given victory, and of the tremendous positive impact your prayers and support for this legal ministry are having across the United States, as our attorneys build on your prayerful support and generous contributions to keep a legal door open for the Gospel.
But some doors are more easily opened than others, and earlier this month, the legal authorities of New Mexico put their backs into a particularly determined effort to close one crucial portal up tight. They did not succeed. Thanks to you, our foot is still in the door. Which means that, a) the door’s not shut yet, but also that … b) some part of the foot is feeling the pain.
Many of you have become familiar with the case of Elaine Huguenin, an exceptionally gifted wedding photographer living in Albuquerque. In 2006, Elaine received an e-mail asking what she would charge to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Based on her sincere Christian convictions, Elaine politely and carefully replied that she did not take pictures at same-sex ceremonies. That seemed to be the end of the matter – until she received a call from the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.
The Commission told Elaine that she was being accused of “sexual orientation discrimination.” (This, despite the fact that New Mexico law does not recognize either marriage or civil unions between persons of the same sex.) Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys readily agreed to represent Elaine before the commission, which eventually found Elaine guilty and ordered her to pay nearly $7,000. Two state courts subsequently ruled against her, and – on August 22 – so did the New Mexico Supreme Court.
In a stunning concurrence to the ruling, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Bosson made it clear that people of faith must now choose between conscience and commerce. “At some point in our lives,” he said, “all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others.” Elaine and her husband, Jonathan, he said, “are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” as “the price of citizenship.”
Support for Elaine has poured in from all over the country – not only from fellow Christians, but from other photographers and artists who fear being compelled to use their talents to celebrate activities contrary to their beliefs. Last month, a Rasmussen poll found 85 percent of Americans sympathetic to her position. Major newspapers, magazines, and websites coast to coast are reporting the case and editorializing in her defense … recognizing this as the embodiment of the enormous threat posed to religious freedom by the cultural embrace of same-sex marriage.
“The idea that free people can be ‘compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives’ as the ‘price of citizenship’ is a chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Americans are now on notice that the price of doing business is their freedom. We are considering our next steps, including asking the U.S. Supreme Court to right this wrong.”
Please pray particularly for Elaine and Jonathan. Because of their courage and sacrifices, and those of many others like them, we have been able to keep many doors open for the Gospel … but their family has paid an emotional toll in standing for the freedom of yours and mine. Please pray, too, for our attorneys, in this case and a growing number like it all over the country, as they work to defend the right of all Americans to hear and speak – and simply live out – God’s truth.