HRC Blog

NM Court: Company Can’t Discriminate against Same-Sex Commitment Ceremony

Last week, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that Elane Photography’s refusal to photograph a commitment ceremony for Vanessa Willock and her partner was a violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA). The company’s owners refused their services to Willock after she inquired about photographing her upcoming commitment ceremony. The owners argued that to photograph a “same-gender ceremony” and “same-sex weddings” would be inconsistent with their personal and religious beliefs in traditional weddings between a man and a woman.

The ruling marks the third time the New Mexico judicial system affirmed that Willock was discriminated against based on her sexual orientation. The New Mexico Court of Appeals and the District Court of Bernalillo County agreed that freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expression do not permit companies that serve the public - i.e. places of public accommodation - to discriminate against same-sex couples. HRC proudly congratulates Vanessa Willock and her partner on their victory. This decision marks another domino piece that has definitively tumbled in favor of equal protections for the LGBT community.

Contributed by McCleary Law Fellow Ian Wilhite

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