Should Christian photographers take gay photos?

Worthy of a special round of Scruples, this one. I ran across a story of New Mexico event photographers who wound up in a bit of hot water over refusing to take photos for a lesbian wedding. The lesbian couple in question took the matter to the Human Rights Commission back in 2006 and Elaine and Jon Huguenin, joint owners of Elaine Photography, have now been asked to pay $7000 for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

I’m going to say they shouldn’t have to. This isn’t a case of a Justice of the Peace refusing to wed a lesbian couple, or people who won’t rent to them. It’s wedding photography and I think all the couple should have done was say, “Screw you then, we’ll give our money to somebody else,” and then paid for some less homophobic company to capture their memorable day forever. I can’t imagine they were the only photographers available in town.

I’m also going to say that I think consumers need to do more research into the companies they want to deal with and maybe this couple was right to want to make an example of the Huguenins. If their beliefs are going to be getting in the way of doing their job, then perhaps they should either switch beliefs or switch jobs.

Another article about the case quotes Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who tries to make the case that this is still more evidence of religious “rights” being whittled away:

“I think this case illustrates a disturbing trend that we’re seeing in general, which is a shrinking of religious liberty and [a shrinking] of the area in which we can act on our religious convictions to only the four walls of our homes or the four walls of our churches,”

he warns, but NEWS FLASH! Religion needs to be pulled out of the public areas. It really needs to be. Keep the public areas secular and be as religious as you want to be at home and your church. The rest of the city/province/state/country should be kept religion free so no group gets preferential treatment and no group winds up feeling slighted. Christians are used to assuming they ought to get preferential treatment but that’s an assumption that needs to be set aside as places get more and more multicultural. I know many Christians think they ought to be allowed to convert everyone they see so the whole world is Christian like they are, but tough tits. People are allowed to hold other religious beliefs. Including no religious beliefs. Laws and ethics and morality can be built up and upheld without resorting to what people think some god thinks.

I’m just throwing all that out there. What about readers? What are your thoughts here?

4 Responses to Should Christian photographers take gay photos?

  1. Laurance says:

    I agree with you, Minion, that the public sphere should be secular, secular, secular, and that religion belongs at home and at church.

    Now where and how do we draw the line? I think it can be a bit fuzzy. I go to Curves (is there Curves in Canada?) which is owned by a born-again christian. I get that some Curves franchises are more blatantly religious than others. Ours is not blatant, but I can still see the christian influence.

    On the one hand they do not discriminate against me. OTOH, I am in the closet. I don’t know what would happen if I were out. I don’t know that they would show me the door, but I might find that the place is no longer particularly friendly and supportive. I don’t know, and I’m not ready to try and find out.

    Nor have I any idea of their hiring practices. I get the Chick-fil-A does have religious requirements, such that if you aren’t a christian, you have to behave like a christian nevertheless and accept and adopt christian practices.

    If I had a business I’d assume that I’m expected to serve all my customers. I would assume that I’d be expected to hire qualified people even if they were churchgoers.

    As for our Curves franchise, most of the songs are secular. From time to time they play christian songs to work out to, but there aren’t very many. I think they have the right to do so. There used to be a wonderful tea shop-bookstore-cafe-meeting place run by a Buddhist woman and her east Indian husband from Calcutta who was an atheist from a Hindu culture. There was Indian music playing much of the time, and many of the books were Buddhist books. But christians were as welcome there as anyone else. (And I as an atheist felt very much at home.)

    So I see I haven’t given a strong opinion on the photographers. I don’t know if suing them is appropriate here, or if it would be enough for them to get a reputation as homophobes, so that many people would go elsewhere.

  2. Greg says:

    How is this any different than refusing to serve someone at a lunch counter?

  3. Laurance says:

    Greg gets right to the point. Yes. It’s in the same category as refusing to serve someone at a lunch counter. I agree here.

    That said, I do think there are some businesses that can legitimately limit their services to certain groups. The aforementioned Curves is for women specifically. I don’t think this is a wrong thing, since there are many gyms where men can go. The owner of Curves did have a gym specifically for women which nevertheless allowed men to join. It went belly up, didn’t work out. There are plenty of gyms that are co-ed and which succeed. But something that is specifically for women is another matter.

    But a photographer is something else. The question is, as I said before, what a good response would be to this.

  4. Michael says:

    Do you truly believe the fundamental laws that have governed most of the developed world for tens of centuries, and which these nations have been founded on came simply from “good moral ethics” and “human decency”? Without the presence of God you will see complete moral and cultural decay (ie: present day). John 3:16′s always been a popular one, but check out John 3:19-20… Without the light there can be only darkness.

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