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Christian Photographer Told She Can't Refuse Same-Sex Weddings

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Christian Photographer Told She Can't Refuse Same-Sex Weddings

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Christian wedding photographer who refused to work on same-sex weddings, saying it had not been ‘persuaded’ by her argument.  

Photographer Emilee Carpenter filed the lawsuit back in April, arguing that New York state’s non-discrimination laws violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as she ‘believes that God created marriage to be a joyful, exclusive union between one man and one woman’. 

She claimed the laws forced her to choose between going against her faith and paying fines of up to $100,000. 

On 13 December, US District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr of Western New York dismissed Carpenter’s case, saying: “The court is not persuaded.” 

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Emilee Carpenter. Credit: Fox News
Emilee Carpenter. Credit: Fox News

In her federal lawsuit, Carpenter had said she didn’t want to photograph anything that could depict marriage in a ‘negative way’, or promote any special occasions between ‘same-sex or polygamous’ couples. 

She also argued she would refuse to provide wedding photography for ‘irreverent themed weddings’ like ‘Halloween or vampire-themed weddings’, saying she believes marriage ceremonies are ‘inherently religious and solemn events’. 

According to the case, Carpenter had received ‘at least seven’ requests to work on same-sex weddings in a year.  

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However, she ‘declined these requests by not responding to them’. 

But Geraci ruled: "The crux of Plaintiff’s claims is that her photography is the product of her unique artistic style and vision. Thus, an exemption for Plaintiff’s unique, non-fungible services would necessarily undermine, not serve, the State’s purpose, as it would 'relegate [same-sex couples] to an inferior market' than that enjoyed by the public at large." 

Stock image. Credit: Alamy
Stock image. Credit: Alamy

Carpenter was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing Evangelical law firm.  

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Jonathan Scruggs, senior counsel for ADF, said in a statement: “The court’s decision continues down a dangerous path of the government compelling artists to speak messages that violate their religious beliefs — or imposing steep fines, closing their businesses, or throwing them in jail." 

On the other hand, LGBT+ advocates have praised the decision, with Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, saying in a statement: “An overwhelming majority of Americans of every race, faith, and political party support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, and support for marriage equality has never been higher. Non-discrimination laws protect every citizen and send a signal that all are welcome, and that’s good for business.

“LGBTQ+ acceptance is growing thanks to leaders in New York, like Attorney General James, who fight for equal treatment in every area of society and defend laws that secure it.”

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: US News, LGBTQ

Jess Hardiman
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