Wedding photographer seeking right to turn away LGBTQ+ couples loses lawsuit
In a big win for the LGBTQ+ community, a Christian wedding photographer who sued the state of New York for the right to turn away LGBTQ+ couples has lost her case.
Emilee Carpenter filed the lawsuit in April, claiming that New York nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people violated her freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and her right to due process.
According to NBC News, Carpenter argued in the lawsuit that, “Just as the government cannot compel a lesbian baker to create a cake condemning same-sex marriage or an atheist playwright to wax positively about God, New York cannot force Emilee to convey messages she objects to.”
Represented by the anti-LGBTQ+ organization Alliance Defending Freedom–a Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group–she also argued that being required to photograph LGBTQ+ weddings would result in her being forced to engage in religious exercises that she did not support.
U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. disagreed, stating in his decision that, “The religious activities occurring at a wedding, whether for a same-sex couple or an opposite-sex couple, are directed at the couple, the friends, the family, and any other invitees in attendance. They are not directed at the caterer, the florist, or the photographer.”
In a statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James celebrated the state’s victory.
“This court decision is a huge victory in our pursuit to ensure that every New Yorker has equal access and equal protections under the law,” James said. “The LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of New York, and no New Yorker should be excluded or turned away from a business or denied a service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Love is love, which is why my office will always fight to ensure that all New Yorkers are treated equally under the law.”
LGBTQ+ activists also celebrated the win.
“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,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Non-discrimination laws protect every citizen and send a signal that all are welcome, and that’s good for business.”
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, praised the court for recognizing “New York’s compelling interest in protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in public accommodations.”
“We are gratified by the court’s ruling,” Gonzalez-Pagan continued, “and grateful for Attorney General James’ vigorous defense of New York’s civil rights laws and the right of LGBTQ+ people to be treated with equality and respect.”
filed under: LGBTQ+ rights, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, LGBTQ+ weddings, LGBTQ+ love, equally wed, LGBTQ+ equality, New York nondiscrimination laws
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