Conor Friedersdorf does not agree with Christian views on sexuality. He doesn’t think homosexuality or premarital sex is a sin. He supports legal gay marriage. Nevertheless, he believes it is wrong to accuse Christian business owners of being bigots for refusing to participate in gay weddings. He also defends Ross Douthat against such ugly accusations. Writing for The Atlantic, Friedersdorf argues that “Refusing to Photograph a Gay Wedding Isn’t Hateful.”
This is the kind of fair-mindedness that I hope we see more of from the other side of this debate. It seems that voices like his are becoming fewer and fewer. In the excerpt below, notice once again that the Christian photographer was happy to photograph gay people. She just didn’t want to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. Friedersdorf writes:
Remember the New Mexico photographer who got sued after declining to photograph a lesbian couple’s wedding, citing religious objections to same-sex marriage? Her name is Elaine Huguenin. In Slate, Mark Joseph Stern has branded her a “homophobe” and an “anti-gay bigot” whose actions sprung from hatred.* He offers no evidence in support of those charges. Insofar as I’ve found, nothing in the public record establishes that this Christian photographer is afraid of gay people, or intolerant of them, or that she bears any hatred toward gays or lesbians.
The facts of her case do suggest that she regards marriage as a religious sacrament with a procreative purpose, that her Christian beliefs cause her to reject same-sex marriage, and that her business discriminates against same-sex weddings because she believes wedding photography requires artistic efforts to render the subject captured in a positive light. She believes making that effort would be wrong.
In America, there is plenty of homophobia, plenty of anti-gay bigotry, and plenty of people whose antagonism to gays and lesbians is rooted in hatred. Sometimes the language of religious liberty is used to justify behavior that is anything but Christ-like. But the Slate article is implicitly trafficking in its own sort of prejudice. The working assumption is that homophobia, anti-gay bigotry, and hatred are obviously what’s motivating anyone who declines to provide a service for a gay wedding.
That assumption is wrongheaded. A closer look at the photographer’s case is the best place to begin. Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin lost a case before the New Mexico Supreme Court, and have now appealed the ruling. As noted in their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Huguenins’ photography business does serve gay and lesbian clients, just not same-sex weddings. Insofar as a photographer can distinguish between discriminating against a class of client and a type of event—there is, perhaps, a limit—their business does so: “The Huguenins gladly serve gays and lesbians—by, for example, providing them with portrait photography—whenever doing so would not require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.”
Read the rest here.