Sunday, August 25, 2013

It’s Easy to Be Mad – But If You Are What’s That Mean?

There was a recent New Mexico Supreme Court Ruling that found a photographic business discriminated in its refusal to take wedding pictures of a couple.  I’ve not read the judgment of the Court, but I have read the judgment from the Court of Appeals, upheld by the New Mexico Supreme Court.
At the heart of the case is the New Mexico Human Rights Act that  prohibits “any person in any public accommodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services ... to any person because of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, spousal affiliation [,] or physical or mental handicap."[1]  The critical aspect of this ruling is the determination on whether a photography business is a public accommodation.  In this case the court agreed with the plaintiff that a public business fit the intent of the legislature in passing the law.
In the bits and bites I’ve seen floating around those who take issue with this judgment, and the Supreme Court ruling that upheld it, believe the government is forcing the owners of Elane Photography to violate their religious beliefs by mandating they must photograph couples they do not believe should have the right to marry.
This does not strike me as a case those who oppose same-sex marriage should hang their hat on.  This is a simple case of discrimination.  The business rationalized that discrimination on their religions beliefs, but the photography business was not being asked to sanction an act; they were performing a public and commercial service.  Would this same support for their position exist if they refused to photograph American Indians, African-Americans, Lutheran’s, members of the military, or even people with Down’s syndrome? I doubt it.
In this emotional debate how quickly we dismiss the guidance of Jesus who said. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7, 1-5 NKJV)

[1] Elane Photograhy, LLC v. Vanessa Willock, Court of Appeals of New Mexico, May 31, 2012.

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