The 'Other Shoe' Has Dropped on Religious Liberty

The other shoe has officially dropped.

Many warned of the adverse effects same-sex "marriage" could have on religious liberty. As exemplified by a ruling rendered by the New Mexico Supreme Court last Thursday, these fears are being realized.

The highest court in the Land of Enchantment ruled that a Christian photographer violated the state's Human Rights Act when she declined to take photos of a lesbian "commitment" ceremony.

Because Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography was unable to reconcile the ceremony with her religiously-based beliefs, she could not participate in the event without violating her conscience. Huguenin helped the couple find another photographer, but the refusal to partake subjected her and her co-owner husband to a complaint before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.

That body subsequently found Huguenin engaged in "sexual orientation" discrimination prohibited under state law and ordered Elane Photography to pay the attorney fees of the two women who filed the complaint. Fast forward a few years later, following the approval of an intermediate appellate court, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld this finding, compelling Huguenin to act contrary to her Christian faith.

The concurrence, authored by Justice Richard Bosson, reveals the thinking behind the decision.

"At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others," Justice Bosson wrote. "The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life…it is price of citizenship."

According to the court, all of us must have missed the fine print in our citizenship agreement. We are to forsake our religious convictions when we do business.

Sorry, but this "price" is too high.

The Christian faith is not prone to that sort of segregation. If one is Christian at home, she is also Christian at work. It can't be turned on and off like a light-switch.

And that's why the individuals charged with articulating our rights as citizens – our Founding Fathers – never placed this imposition on us. To the contrary, religious freedom was counted first and foremost, as reflected by its placement in the beginning of the Bill of Rights, to make sure the government would not abridge it – regardless of where we are.

The First Amendment does not condition the right on our religious beliefs being consistent with the politically correct movement of the day. That very threat is what the right is supposed to protect against.

As it turns out, neither marriage nor civil unions happens to be legal for same-sex couples in New Mexico. But no matter, in this new age of one-sided tolerance, Elaine Huguenin was still declared guilty of discrimination for refusing to betray her conscience.

Be assured, others will face the wrath of the homosexual agenda should they likewise refuse to sanction and participate in same-sex ceremonies. More and more cities and states are passing aggressive "human rights" legislation and encouraging couples to report anyone who denies them services, even in states like New Mexico where the union is not legally recognized. Any place where these laws exist, Christians will be forced to violate their deeply-held beliefs or abandon their livelihoods.

The other shoe has dropped and it is trampling on religious freedom.

Nate Kellum is chief counsel for the Center for Religious Expression a non-profit organization in Memphis, TN dedicated entirely to the protection of religious speech.