Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

N.M. Anti-Discrimination Ruling Upheld


In a legal battle over the definition of personal morality in a photography business, the New Mexico state court has ruled that a photographic enterprise is a service, not a form of artistic expression, and is required to follow anti-discrimination laws.

Elaine Huguenin, a New Mexico-based wedding photographer, was first taken to court in 2006 after refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony between Vanessa Willock and Misty Pascottini.

Willock and Pascottini sought attorney's fees and, in 2008, won their case when the New Mexico Human Rights Commission (HRC) reaffirmed that it is illegal and discriminatory for any person in any public accommodation to make a distinction in offering or refusing to offer its services on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation and several other factors.

Huguenin appealed, stating that the law was in violation of her freedom of religion and expression and that her business should not be forced to endorse same-sex marriage. Last December, the court upheld HRC's decision that Huguenin's business, Elaine Photography, as a public service, is prohibited from the act of discriminating against individuals in the provision of publicly available goods, privileges and services.