You are on page 1of 3

Diaz 1

Danay Diaz
Professor John Kubler
English 115
17 September 2014
No Religion, Just Business
Separation of church and house has been an issue since the founding fathers have tried to
form a perfect country. Truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect country. The effort to keep
religion separated from government is still ongoing. For example, the Elane Photography case
dealt with freedom of speech/religion and human rights which intervened with each other. In
regards to the case, Elane Photography (a public business) denied a lesbian couple wedding
photos, because it went against the owners beliefs. In the case overview there are many strong
points for both sides. The case came out in favor for human rights over freedom of speech and
religion. Although I do support same-sex marriage and equal human rights, I do not fully agree
with the courts decision.
This is a side many people are going to disagree with. Still, it is a strong truth the public
needs to be faced with. In the Elane Photography case, a same-sex couple sued a photography
company for denying them the right of wedding photos. Immediately this case became noticed.
Gay rights has been a raging topic of discussion throughout the past 10 years. Growing up in Los
Angeles, I have been surrounded by same-sex couples my entire life and it is something to me
that is not bizarre. Although, in many other cities and states around the word, it is bizarre. The
court decided to side with the lesbian couple, saying that the photography company did not have
the right to deny the couple because of sexual orientation. Now, as much as I agree with the court

Diaz 2
prohibit[ing] . . . discriminatory practices against certain defined classes of people (4), I do not
agree that Elane Photography did not have the right to turn the couple down.
Every and any business has the right to turn away any customer; they do not have to give
service to any person they do not feel comfortable with. Elane Photography argues that the
company did not deny the photos to the couple because of sexual orientation, but because the
company did not want to convey through [the same-sex couples]s pictures the story of an event
celebrating an understanding of marriage that conflicts with [the company] beliefs (6). In my
opinion, if the company does not want to advertise or attract same-sex couples, then that
company or business should have the right to do so. For example, my mother is very old
fashioned, if she were to walk into Elane Photography and see many photos of same-sex couples,
she would not use their services. With that being said, I believe that it could (and most likely
would) affect the sales rates for Elane Photography if they publicized same-sex marriage. What
many people do not understand is, no matter what others support, there is still discrimination in
the real world. Elane Photography has the right to express what they want through their work, for
photography is an expressive art form and that photographs can fall within the constitutional
protections of free speech (9). This means that Elane Photography should have the right to
express their freedom of speech and religion through their work of photography.
The Elane Photography case was mostly impacted by the NMHRA (New Mexico Human
Rights Act). The NMHRA stated that the Legislature . . . made the policy decision to prohibit
public accommodations from discriminating against people based on their sexual
orientation (3), which gave the same-sex couple the upper hand. This also means that when
Elane Photography denied the couple from wedding photos, they also violated the law. Although

Diaz 3
this is a very strong factor to the case, the NMHRA violates many laws in itself. Using the
NMHRA law against Elane Photography in this form violates either the Free Speech or the Free
Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (3). When the
founding fathers started to make this strong nation, they made the bill of rights. Arguably,
freedom of speech, being the most important amendment. In the Constitution it states, Congress
shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech (9), a very strong point for Elane
Photography to make while trying to defend its choice. I believe that the NMHRA was used in
this case mostly to support the same-sex marriage, but it can easily be used to defend Elane
Photography. Another way Elane Photography could use this act in their favor is by pretending
the law did not even exist. If Elane Photography would have denied the rights to a same-sex
couple in a state other than New Mexico (where this act of Humans Rights is irrelevant), then the
business would have won the case. 3
Reading over this case at first, it seems like the right thing to do and an obvious choice
when siding with the lesbian couple. Nevertheless, once putting myself into Elane Photographys
shoes, I can see the argument in such a different light. There is so much debate over same-sex
rights, that nowadays it seems wrong to go against them. In my eyes, taking the side of Elane
Photography, I am making a reasonable argument. But to the public eye, I am discriminating and
a homophobe. Neither of those statements are true. With the arguments made and the way life is
right now, Elane Photography did not get what they deserved.