Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Mexico Accused of Violating 'Free Exercise' of Religion

UPDATE 12/17/09: Judge requires Christians, found guilty, to pay $6,600

UPDATE 6/6/12: New Mexico Court of Appeals upholds Civil Rights Commission's pro-homosexual ruling/fine against Christian

-- From "New Mexico accused of violating 'free exercise' of religion" © 2008 WorldNetDaily 7/3/08

The state of New Mexico is being accused of violating the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of "free exercise" of religion because of a ruling that a Christian husband-and-wife photography team must pay a $6,600 penalty for refusing to shoot pictures at a same-sex "commitment" ceremony.

"Christians in the marketplace should not be penalized for abiding by their beliefs any more than anyone else should," Jordan Lorence, a senior counsel for the [Alliance Defense Fund], said. "The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing unwilling people to promote a message they disagree with and thereby violate their conscience. The commission's decision demonstrates stunning disregard for our client's First Amendment rights."

The "commission" to which he was referring was the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission, which targeted Elane Photography with its state authority and ordered the penalty of $6,600 after a one-day "trial" over the beliefs of the Christian-owned business.

"The government cannot make people choose between their faith and their livelihood," said Lorence. "Could the government force a vegetarian videographer to create a commercial for the new butcher shop in town? American business owners do not surrender their constitutional rights at the marketplace gate."

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