Photographing gay weddings: a moral quandry?
June 20, 2008 1:57 AM   Subscribe

Will Photographing Same-Sex Ceremonies Hurt or Help Your Wedding Photography Business? Wedding photographer Sean Cayton wonders how to deal with gay weddings. "If you're thinking, 'I just won't do same-sex weddings because I don't need the headache,' it's not that simple." via
posted by Poagao (343 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Totally feel for the guy. It's almost like you can't always skate through life doing whatever benefits you most, but sometimes you have to choose a position based on what your conscience tells you and potentially suffer some consequences. And this, after he was promised up and down that life would be easy.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:21 AM on June 20, 2008 [40 favorites]


Not against same-sex marriages or anything, but something really struck me as wrong in the article...

That case, Vanessa Willock v. Elane Photography...

I don't agree with the reason why they declined, as well as the way it was stated, but why in the name of all that is holy (insert your creed here) has the right to service from a private corporation become an essential human right?

Where next? The American National Shirtless Association suing restaurants? The International Brotherhood of Irrational and Violent Drunks suing bars?

Oh, crap.

Apparently, it is not as clear cut as it once seemed...
posted by Samizdata at 2:29 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


If income were more important to me than my ethics, why wouldn't I just steal everything I need in life?
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:35 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


What next? I dunno? Maybe suing restaurants that don't serve black people. They're private corporations, after all, they can serve whoever they like, right?
posted by Poagao at 2:35 AM on June 20, 2008 [13 favorites]


Well, you'd have to think there is something more discrimination-worthy about being gay than about being black, or that lunch counters which didn't serve blacks were A-OK, or that there is something wildly different about one kind of service business versus another.

Because I'll tell you, when someone tries to deny me service for being queer or gives me worse service because of it, I'm not standing there thinking "thank heavens that certain other kinds of bigotry are addressed by the law."
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:47 AM on June 20, 2008 [14 favorites]


Sorry, that "you'd have to think" was directed at Samizdata.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:51 AM on June 20, 2008


Poagao -

As I said previously...

I don't agree with the reason why they declined, as well as the way it was stated...

I guess I am just worried about the fact that the government, or quasi-government organizations, can just step in happily and regulate everything about your business that you sweated and worked to develop and then tell you, regardless of what you think or feel, that you WILL serve a customer you do not feel like serving or they will take that money you have earned and hand it right over to someone else.

Oh no.

THE GOVERNMENT IS GOOD! YAY BIG BROTHER! DOWN WITH GOLDSTEINISM! SEXCRIME DOUBLEPLUSUNGOOD!

proceeds to do calisthenics in front of his monitor

That better?

Each time something like this happens, we set precedents.

Sooner or later, those precedents are going to be used to create and enforce new and exciting laws that will eventually hit YOU where it hurts.
posted by Samizdata at 2:51 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yeah, precedent was set when Jim Crow laws were abolished. Plenty of us prefer it.
posted by ryanrs at 2:56 AM on June 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


That was a funny post and I'm not sure if you're being entirely serious, but there would also have been a precedent set by the government ruling that the lunch counters were fine, and we'd be living in that alternate future now. I'm taking a wild guess that this one is preferable.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:57 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Your Time Machine Sucks -

Cool. Now I am a homophobe.

I do not condone any discrimination. But I also believe we need a little balance here. Business owners have some rights also, whether or not you agree with their reasons.

The feeling I got from that article was that the author felt trapped because his basic right to self-expression by choosing how to offer his services to has been curtailed. Fundamentally, it will be his business that suffers based on his decisions.

So, in protecting one group, we are going to strip the rights of another.

Does that really sound right to you?
posted by Samizdata at 2:58 AM on June 20, 2008


The writer of this is an idiot. Leaving aside issues of morality (and believe me, he deserves to have his company taken off him for even considering to refuse same-sex marriage photography), what he's effectively doing is reinforcing the bullying tactics of the far right. As far as I'm concerned, this is analogous to agreeing to terrorist demands.

I want to see him stop doing gay weddings, and then see them turn the pressure up to stop him photographing people from other religions or people who have tattoos or people who aren't wearing enough hessian.

I hope he's proud of writing about this "difficult issue." Because as far as I'm concerned, by dealing with this only in terms of his current bottom line, he's committed pretty much the worst sin imaginable. The sanctimonious cunt.
posted by seanyboy at 3:00 AM on June 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


Well, that's it.

Good night, folks. I am out of here. Any chance for dialogue is apparently done.

Take care of your waitstaff since they take care of you...
posted by Samizdata at 3:02 AM on June 20, 2008


(unless you're gay)
posted by ryanrs at 3:04 AM on June 20, 2008 [18 favorites]


I didn't call you a homophobe, I (pretty mildly) questioned the premise of your argument. People, the whole "Ahh! Don't put words in my mouth! You very nearly called me a name!" method of defending your point doesn't bring anyone closer to understanding or make you look very good.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:06 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


So, in protecting one group, we are going to strip the rights of another.

Yes, obviously everyone can't have everything they want. In the other case I mentioned before, the government took away the rights of restaurants to only serve white people. Those bastards! What will their paying KKK customers think?
posted by Poagao at 3:06 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


As a photographer, I refuse to shoot gay weddings.

I also refuse to shoot straight weddings.
posted by bwg at 3:09 AM on June 20, 2008 [23 favorites]


Hey, I just realized we need a new derogatory term for married people. We can't well call them breeders if they're both men.
posted by ryanrs at 3:14 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


BWG: As a gay photographer, I refuse to shoot weddings as well. Mainly because I am no good at shooting weddings and end up shooting water drops on the silverware instead of the guests.
posted by Poagao at 3:20 AM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Mainly because I am no good at shooting weddings and end up shooting water drops on the silverware instead of the guests.

Clearly you have taste.

Do we really need shots of Uncle Fred doing the Chicken Dance?
posted by bwg at 3:31 AM on June 20, 2008


I also refuse to shoot straight weddings.

So, you admit to discriminating against the recently wedded?

HOW LONG CAN AMERIKA STAND 4 THIS INJUSTICE!?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:33 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Business owners have some rights also, whether or not you agree with their reasons.

Is denying service to people based on sexual orientation a right of business owners?
posted by 23skidoo at 3:45 AM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


So, you admit to discriminating against the recently wedded?

Absolutely.

By being discriminating, I avoid being sued by newlyweds who realise too late that I'm not a wedding photographer.
posted by bwg at 3:46 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where next? The American National Shirtless Association suing restaurants? The International Brotherhood of Irrational and Violent Drunks suing bars?

Shirtless people and drunks, of course, also being a federally-protected minority class, thus making your analogy not totally fucking stupid at all.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:52 AM on June 20, 2008 [16 favorites]


The feeling I got from that article was that the author felt trapped because his basic right to self-expression by choosing how to offer his services to has been curtailed. Fundamentally, it will be his business that suffers based on his decisions.

Sure. Similarly, people felt as though their basic right to freedom of association was being trampled on when they had to serve black people in restaurants. "Oh noes!", they cried. "Our white customers, who make up the totality of our current business, will no longer want to Eat at Mom's if they find themselves seated opposite from a table of nigras! They'll stay at home, or only eat at Klansman Bar-B-Cues instead, and our financial status will come to match our moral and spiritual condition -- ie, bankrupt!"

Tough titty.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:00 AM on June 20, 2008 [13 favorites]


This is particularly funny because, as any aggressive small businessperson knows, you network and promote yourself pretty much all the time if you're in a market with any real competition. You are always choosing where you network and to whom you promote yourself, which, if you're competent, results in a primary clientele you favor and can connect with. By not putting an ad in a gay paper, this photographer guaranteed that gay marriages would constitute a tiny percentage of his business at most.

What small businesspeople whine about in these cases comes down to the fact that it may not be legal for them to enforce an absolute 'purity' along some kind of criterion in evaluating potential clientele (this is surprising?). More embarrassingly, what this guy in particular is whining about is that he worked the bigot market, which has him painted into a corner because now the law is moving towards an opinion in which obeying it will alienate his bigots. That is pretty much the perfect definition of 'cost of doing business'.

On preview, what PeterMcDermott said.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:21 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Business, by its very nature, is quasi-public not wholly private.

Moreover, I'll say that I not only feel no sympathy for the possible damage to the business owned by the bigoted individual who refused to photograph a gay wedding, I will add that I *HOPE* his business suffers. If we drive enough bigots out of business maybe the others will learn not to be quite so public in their bigotry. Maybe, as he surveys the ashes of everything he struggled to build, as he weeps over the bankruptcy forms, maybe then he'll realize "gee, I shouldn't have been such an asshole to those gay people".

Actions have consiquences, and as far as I'm concerned the consiquence of his embrace of homobigotry should be the end of his business. Let the evil scum flip burgers.
posted by sotonohito at 4:22 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, in protecting one group, we are going to strip the rights of another.

Flashback 40 years: How do you feel about a private school wanting to keep out jews and blacks? How is your sympathy coming along now? Should you as headmaster sacrifice the money coming from those who don't want their kids to mix with that sort?
posted by biffa at 4:25 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems his discussion topic is moot, he may not deny services based upon sexual orientation, period. I'd suspect even those conservative churches must take care not to be considered businesses.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:28 AM on June 20, 2008


Note to this guy: gay people's money spends as good as anyones. you're commiting a crime against capitalism, you idiot.
posted by jonmc at 4:29 AM on June 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


As a bitter lonely person, I fully support anything which upsets wedding photographers and their clients -- regardless of sexual orientation.
posted by Kikkoman at 4:39 AM on June 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


Legalising these marriages isn't going to wipe away this sort of bullshit, sadly.

Yes, photographers can photograph anyone they want. That doesn't make them any less callous when they refuse.

I wonder if anyone ever said, "sorry, we don't photograph ugly couples."
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:41 AM on June 20, 2008


jeffburdges Actually, a church has lost its tax exempt status based on a refusal to perform a gay marriage. Which, to me sounds like a great thing. Were I gay and Californian I'd call up my local Roman Catholic Church and every other church with a known homobigot agenda, request that they perform my marriage, and thus increase the tax revenues of the state of California tremendously.

Of course, I'm in the minority that thinks the tax exempt status of religious groups is a bad thing, so I realize my viewpoint on that one may not be popular.
posted by sotonohito at 4:48 AM on June 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


Sotonohito, which church?

Is denying service to people based on sexual orientation a right of business owners?

Where states have not yet legislated sexual orientation as a protected class along with gender and race, yes business owners have a right to discriminate. I don't agree with such discrimination, because legal or not, it seems immoral, cruel, unthinking and hidebound.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:02 AM on June 20, 2008


sotonohito: link or it didn't happen
posted by null terminated at 5:38 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


No Samizdata, you're not a homophobe.

You're just a person who wants discrimination and bigotry to be legal, and who uses some sort of strange (and seemingly baseless) slippery slope argument to bolster your defense of bigotry.

So, not a homophobe. But a person who I'd never want to meet. Or do business with.
posted by Project F at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sort of confused why this is such a huge issue. It seems like it would be pretty easy to put together a portfolio of samples and letters of reference aimed at your conservative homophobe client base that includes nothing but brides and grooms of the appropriate race and religious background who are tattoo and piercing free, well dressed and apparently still virgins until their wedding day, and another that includes a broader mix of your clientele to be used for your more open-minded clients.

Unless you're in the habit of telling people that you can't possibly shoot their wedding on June 26th, because you have to shoot the Martin-Tomlinson wedding and did you know that Martin and Tomlinson are both guys, by the way, and what's up with that, and so you're busy, why would they ever really need to know?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:50 AM on June 20, 2008


jonmc: "Note to this guy: gay people's money spends as good as anyones. you're commiting a crime against capitalism, you idiot."

Exactly. I used to work for a huge multinational manufacturing corporation and when they were explaining their reasons for providing partner benefits to gay couples, they said, "Gays have money to spend and we want them to choose our products." It was that simple; no talk about rights or altruism, just pure marketing. Why go out of your way to alienate a significant chunk of your customer base?
posted by octothorpe at 5:59 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


What next? I dunno? Maybe suing restaurants that don't serve black people. They're private corporations, after all, they can serve whoever they like, right?

Boycotts, sit-ins, and other forms of creative protest and lobbying are WAAAAAAAY more fun and less expensive and time consuming than lawsuits, and can also result in much more embarrassing publicity for the business being pressured.

Sometimes I think I should make it my mission in life to make people realize that lawsuits and little black dresses should not be everyone's default option.
posted by orange swan at 6:02 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Per this article in the Christian Science Monitor [1] it was the Ocean Grove United Methodists in New Jersey. Apparently they owned a campground cum boardwalk that is generally open to the public and refused to allow a lesbian couple to solemnize their civil union there. Nothing I can find states that the UM people were requested to perform any ceremony, simply that the couple wanted to use the generally open to everyone land the church owned. Result: no tax exempt status for the bigots.
posted by sotonohito at 6:14 AM on June 20, 2008


Unless you're in the habit of telling people that you can't possibly shoot their wedding on June 26th, because you have to shoot the Martin-Tomlinson wedding and did you know that Martin and Tomlinson are both guys, by the way, and what's up with that, and so you're busy, why would they ever really need to know?

Yeah, exactly. If all he cares about is maximizing his revenue and not running afoul of the law, then the obvious solution is to take what little work he's likely to get from gay customers in his "conservative community", but not display it anywhere. In fact, someone suggested that in the comments, and this was his response:
We advertise all of our weddings! It's part of what we do and to not advertise a same-sex wedding? Well, that would be discriminatory.
Now, I don't see anywhere in the article itself where he acknowledges that refusing gay customers would be discriminatory. It's all about whether or not it will make him more money, and how offending his homophobic clientele might affect his business, and whether the whole thing is just a big headache for him. So why the sudden attack of conscience when it comes to not advertising that he'll shoot gay weddings?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:17 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you're a photographer, do you really want to do business with a couple who wouldn't use you if you also photographed gay couples, because it sounds like they'd be real assholes to work for anyway. Promoting gay wedding photography would be a good way to weed out the undesirables.
posted by ColdChef at 6:24 AM on June 20, 2008


Per this article in the Christian Science Monitor [1] it was the Ocean Grove United Methodists in New Jersey. Apparently they owned a campground cum boardwalk that is generally open to the public and refused to allow a lesbian couple to solemnize their civil union there. Nothing I can find states that the UM people were requested to perform any ceremony, simply that the couple wanted to use the generally open to everyone land the church owned. Result: no tax exempt status for the bigots.

This is pretty different from a church has lost its tax exempt status based on a refusal to perform a gay marriage. I'm pretty sure churches are allowed to discriminate, since they can already discriminate based on, y'know, religion.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:35 AM on June 20, 2008


Ok. I was initially on the fence with this guy, but compelling arguments have been made that he can should and is probably legally compelled to shoot gay weddings. He can certainly try to dissuade gay couples from using his service if he cares to, right?

Taking tax exempts status away from churches, though? Or the couple in that NPR article fighting to use a church-owned pavilion for their wedding? That's atrocious. That's religious bigotry.

If you want the church to stay out of the state (and you should) you better keep the state out of fucking church. Otherwise, you're proving all those conservative assholes right when they scream "homo agenda!"
posted by es_de_bah at 6:39 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


We advertise all of our weddings! It's part of what we do and to not advertise a same-sex wedding? Well, that would be discriminatory.

Oh, the poor dear's hands are really tied, aren't they. I wonder if this guy makes such a mealy-mouthed blog post every time an external factor has an effect on the way he does business.

Gasoline prices: my expenses have increased, but if I raise my rates, I'll be charging my customers more, and if I don't, I'll be earning less! Life doesn't get any trickier than this.

Insurance: it's expensive to keep full coverage, but if I leave some of my gear uncovered, I'll have to replace it if it breaks! Life doesn't get any trickier than this.

Competition: there's a new photographer in town and I might have to do better work or see some of my business go! Life doesn't get any trickier than this.

Speaking of rights, there's no right to profitably run a business without ever having to adapt to emerging conditions.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 6:41 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


As one last aside, is there any law that protects the rights of freelance creative professionals to discriminate?

Do I have to paint a portrait of this 40 year old skin-head? Do I have to photograph this clan wedding?

Want something more constitutionally recognized? Do I have to do Scientologist weddings? Snake Handlers? Nation of Islam?

I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I think it's important.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:49 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty amazed at the vitriol, both here and on the linked site.

Here's a guy who apparently doesn't have anything against gay people, is fine with them being married, and in fact later on worries about insulting gay couples whose samples are omitted from his portfolio. He's worried about the impact this will have on his business and trying to figure out ways to deal with it. Note that not ONCE did he mention the option of refusing service outright -- in fact he provided reasons why that was not an option.

Gay marriage is becoming a reality due to the bravery and tenacity of its proponents. That's great. But by vituperatively attacking ordinary people who are trying to come to terms with the real-world consequences of it, calling them homophobes and making deeply hurtful and insulting comparisons to racists, you alienate those who might otherwise turn out to vote down a constitutional amendment in November.

Instead? Acknowledge that this person has been dragged into a conflict unwillingly. Give him encouragement, smile and clench your teeth when he says dumb shit that's not really meant to insult and gently correct him. Finally, give him constructive suggestions on how he can serve his customers, and what compromises he can and cannot make.

If you want the right to invoke the Civil Rights movement every time you discuss this struggle, you too have to learn to be firm, righteous, humble and polite all at the same time.
posted by xthlc at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2008 [31 favorites]


I want to see snake-handling wedding pics.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:54 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Being gay isn't speech or religious practice, it is a state of existence.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 6:54 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


es_de_bah, the law seems pretty clear on where you can and can't discriminate. You can discriminate against people all you want, provided the reason doesn't fall under one of the protected classes: age, sex, race, national origin, disability, creed or religion (and in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation).
posted by jacquilynne at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, a church has lost its tax exempt status based on a refusal to perform a gay marriage...

Do you have a cite for this?

The separation of church and state is quite clear. Here in Massachusetts (as I suppose also in California) there is no requirement (state or federal) that forces any religious denomination to perform weddings for gay couples. Civil marriages are performed, as well as some denominations (e.g. Unitarian Universalist, Congregational/UCC, etc.) perform religious ones. These churches actually promote their openess, acceptance and willingness by welcoming gays/lesbians to have religious marriages in their sanctuaries.
posted by ericb at 6:57 AM on June 20, 2008


I shoot portraits, often of couples or families, and I've got sample shots from a gay couple's session on my portfolio site right here. And if you don't want to do business with me because I'm non-judgemental about my clients, then I don't want your money. Those shots are in my printed portfolios, too -- making it quite clear that a) I don't care who you are kissing, and b) if that bothers you, I don't want your business.

It's that simple.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I do not condone any discrimination. But I also believe we need a little balance here. Business owners have some rights also, whether or not you agree with their reasons.

They do not have such rights under California state law.

And they should not. When the option exists for businesses to serve only a subset of their willing customers, and economic and social pressures exist for them to do so, everyone not in that subset is essentially exiled from the mainstream economy.

If, because I'm gay, employers can refuse to hire me, landlords can refuse to rent to me, and merchants can refuse to sell to me, I've got no quality of life whatsoever unless I stay in the closet. When it happened to black people it was called Jim Crow, and there was no option to stay in the closet.

I don't understand the libertarian mindset at all. Discrimination is destructive to the lives of a lot of people, and it's easily remedied by government intervention.
posted by Epenthesis at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Taking tax exempts status away from churches, though? .... That's atrocious. That's religious bigotry.

Why is that? I firmly believe that no church should be tax-exempt.

Perhaps they could administer charity through a tax-exempt subsidiary, that acts as any other charity does, (and is subject to the same discrimination laws as any other charity) but the church itself is primarily a business and they should all be taxed.
posted by Project F at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2008


Here's a guy who apparently doesn't have anything against gay people, is fine with them being married, and in fact later on worries about insulting gay couples whose samples are omitted from his portfolio. He's worried about the impact this will have on his business and trying to figure out ways to deal with it. Note that not ONCE did he mention the option of refusing service outright -- in fact he provided reasons why that was not an option.

OK, this is why this whole article is BS:

He has no competition with an advantage over him on this issue.

His customers are shocked that he's doing gay weddings, and threaten to take their business elsewhere? Let them go ahead. They have to shoot gay weddings "elsewhere" as well, because the law requires them to. Similarly, the option of segregated lunch counters no longer exists, much as they might appeal to some.
posted by Epenthesis at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do I have to paint a portrait of this 40 year old skin-head? Do I have to photograph this clan wedding?

No, no, those aren't members of protected groups, and obviously they never will be, because as long as we let the government decide when discrimination is right versus when forced association is right, how could that ever backfire on us?

But personally, I'm more worried about the backlash than the overreaching. Individual liberty is based on the idea that I have the right to say what I want and nobody else can fine me or imprison me, but everyone else has the right to ignore me or shun me if they don't like what I say. Take away that right of theirs, and they're going to have a powerful new motivation to stop respecting that right of mine.
posted by roystgnr at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


the church itself is primarily a business and they should all be taxed.

Well, no, a church is a church, not a business. Their income is donation-based. And in addition to this, if churches suddenly qualify as businesses under federal law, they won't be able to discriminate based on religion for staff, effectively obliterating the entire purpose of having a church. Which might be what you want, but doesn't actually make sense.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:20 AM on June 20, 2008


Here's a guy who apparently doesn't have anything against gay people, is fine with them being married, and in fact later on worries about insulting gay couples whose samples are omitted from his portfolio.

It's not clear from the article that he's worried about insulting gay couples. Nothing stops him from having portfolios targeted towards particular groups (in fact it would make obvious business sense), so what's the issue? The thrust of his article seems to be that if his homophobic customers find out that he's shot a single gay wedding, he'll have trouble:
We often work for couples who go to very conservative churches that oppose gay marriage. I hesitate to think what would happen to some of my most reliable sources of income if I photographed a same-sex wedding.
I don't know what he expects anyone to say in response to this. If his customers are that bigoted, then the problem is his customer base. There are still lots of people in this country who dislike interracial marriages; I don't hear wedding photographers wringing their hands about that. Why is this a different problem?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:23 AM on June 20, 2008


This guy is a wedding photographer in Colorado Springs. Calling that a "conservative community" is an understatement. It's the epicenter of the evangelical Christian movement. I think he's right to be worried that photographing gay weddings could torpedo his business. Yes, obviously, it's the right thing to do. But until we get some legal precedent that prevents other businesses from pandering to the evangelicals by discriminating against gay people, any business that does the right thing in a place like Colorado Springs may suddenly be at a crippling disadvantage. And that's a problem for progressive business-owners who want to do the right thing in the interim.

I'd wager his counterparts upstate in the more progressively minded Boulder won't have quite the same dilemma. And, yeah, maybe the guy should consider a change of geography before he considers discriminating against gay customers. But dude's wrestling with some serious issues, he's trying to work them through before he has to deal with the problem (gay weddings were recently legalized in California, not Colorado), and he's doing what he can to put them in front of the community rather than taking the coward's way out and selling his soul in private.

Sanctimonious cunt? Come on.
posted by Joey Bagels at 7:24 AM on June 20, 2008 [13 favorites]


but the church itself is primarily a business and they should all be taxed.

How is a church a business? Most churches that I'm familiar with function more like non profits.
posted by drezdn at 7:26 AM on June 20, 2008


es_de_bah Well, I'm one of those nasty people who opposes tax exempt status for churches in general. I argue that they're a business and should be taxed as such.

Still even if that wasn't my position I don't see the argument that stripping a church of its tax exempt status if it is acting in a manner that violates various non-discrimination acts is wrong.

Why? The church is getting financial support from the government, a tax exemption is essentially the same as the government giving you money. If a group violates the non-discrimination laws it loses that government support. It can keep on being homobigoted, but it doesn't get government money to pursue its agenda of hate. I don't see a problem here.

If a 501c3 violates federal anti-discrimination laws it, gasp, shock, surprise, loses its tax exempt status. Why should we be carving out a special, privileged, position for a group of men in funny hats? If they don't want government interference, let them stop taking government money.
posted by sotonohito at 7:32 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, a church has lost its tax exempt status based on a refusal to perform a gay marriage. Which, to me sounds like a great thing.

This is a highly inaccurate framing of the story. What happened is this:

The church owns a boardwalk property. The church received tax-exempt status for this property from the state of New Jersey under a program that gives tax breaks to organizations (not just churches) who open up private land to public use.

On the property is a pavilion that is frequently used to weddings. A lesbian couple tried to book it for a commitment ceremony, and were denied permission. Because of this, the state ruled that the facility could no longer be considered "open for public use" because some people were being excluded.

The case has nothing to do with freedom of religion or the tax-exempt status of churches. The church itself hasn't lost its status; it only has to pay taxes on the boardwalk property. The local Rotary Club could have gotten tax-exempt status on a building they owned for opening it to public use, and it would have been taken away for the same reasons.

There's an argument to be made for not exempting churches from paying taxes, certainly, but if we're going to do it, we can't start revoking it for people who believe things we don't like.
posted by EarBucket at 7:34 AM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


There are still lots of people in this country who dislike interracial marriages; I don't hear wedding photographers wringing their hands about that. Why is this a different problem?

Oops, because as Joey Bagels points out, he's not in California, he's in Colorado. In that case, I guess the best business decision is to avoid alienating his homophobic clientele until such time as he has the law to back him up. Just another reason not to live there.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:35 AM on June 20, 2008


On preview, to drezdn:

If they really are non-profits, let them apply for 501(c)3 status. I'll bet not very many qualify. But giving a blanket tax immunity to any group of people who say "yup, God wants X" is just plain stupid. Its an explicit government endorsement of religion over non-religion.
posted by sotonohito at 7:39 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm puzzled that the photographer in the linked article went out of her way to say "we don't shoot gay weddings."

I'm a freelancer (not photographer) and from time to time am offered jobs that I don't want to take for one reason or another (though I've never turned down work because of the client's background). My standard response in those situations is "I'm booked up."

Telling a prospective client "I won't work for people like you"—even though that may be your real intent—is spiteful and provocative. Sometimes the white lie allows us all to get along a little better.
posted by adamrice at 7:40 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do I have to paint a portrait of this 40 year old skin-head?

SHARPs recognize the biracial origins of the skinhead subculture, and resent what they see as the hijacking of the skinhead name by racist extremists.
posted by ersatz at 7:41 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Otherwise, you're proving all those conservative assholes right when they scream "homo agenda!"

We gay people are especially dangerous because unlike Christians, we don't have a doctrine of forgiveness and enemy-loving at the base of our movement. So be nice to us, or else we'll deliberately walk down the street in hotpants and espadrilles, knowing full well that beating us up will count as a hate crime and carry a potentially heavier sentence.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 7:43 AM on June 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


Honey, espadrilles are so last year.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:00 AM on June 20, 2008


I am disappointed with the pile-on treatment here. This has turned into a sanctimonious contest to see who can condemn the photographer most vituperatively. It is really easy for people who have no horse in this race to say, "Of course he should risk his business to do the right thing!" And if you live in the NY metro area, or SF, or Chicago, there is no risk to your livelihood in shooting gay weddings, but as pointed out by Joey Bagels, there is a substantial risk of monetary harm in Colorado Springs. I, like the overwhelming majority of readers of this site, support gay rights including but not limited to marriage–but I can understand the concerns of the small business owner in a conservative town

It is, to say the least, premature to condemn this man – he said he is watching photogs in conservative California markets to see how they handle this issue and what the fallout is. In the end, I suspect it's a tempest in a teacup, but it certainly bears watching on his part. The photog would be an imbecile not to keep an eye on this. People here are condemning a man for keeping an eye on an issue that may, in coming months or years, have a significant impact on his livelihood. It's a knee-jerk reaction and an opportunity to bloviate about JUST HOW WRONG this guy is to EVEN CONSIDER KEEPING AN EYE ON THE FINANCIAL RAMIFICATIONS of same-sex marriage for wedding photogs in conservative markets. It's a contest to see who hates bigots more, and who can shout about it most loudly. What do you get if you win?
posted by Mister_A at 8:07 AM on June 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


You know what I'm not looking forward to in the slightest? Explaining all this shrieking and bleating about other people's sex lives to my grandkids. They're gonna ask why we spent so much energy worrying about how consenting adults chose to love each other when those choices had zero impact on anyone else. They're gonna wonder why, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the world's last superpower let bigotry and obsolete desert mythology influence public policy so heavily. They won't understand why it took legislation to get people to treat other people like people.

And as we step off the mag-lev train and make our way to the smellovision arcade, I'm not gonna be able to answer them. I'm just gonna be fucking embarrassed that some of my contemporaries wanted their bigotry to remain enshrined in law. There won't be a way to explain it that won't sound a bit like mass hysteria.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:12 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


"I do not condone any discrimination."

Beating a dead horse here, but I need some clarity on this statement.

So you think businesses should be able to refuse service to people based on race, gender or sexual orientation. But you don't condone discrimination. Pretty please explain that.
posted by Ragma at 8:20 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't envy this photographer, though. He clearly doesn't share the community bigotry which has put him in such a tough spot. It's unfortunate that he doesn't live somewhere that has a big enough pool of same-sex business to replace what business he might lose cuz of church lady gossip.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:24 AM on June 20, 2008


It's a contest to see who hates bigots more, and who can shout about it most loudly.
It isn't. I'm actually pretty pissed that bowing to extremist pressure is being treated as a rational response.

Yeah - I understand that he's got a bottom line & he wants to feed his family, but always in these situations there has to be a point where he says "No - I do not agree with this thing and despite the fact that it'll impact me, I won't do it." Obviously he sees this particular issue as being close to that line, and that's bullshit.

The only question is on what side of the line this particular issue lies. For me, it's not acceptable to deny service to people because of sexual orientation & it never will be. If you're turning customers away because the anti-homosexual lobby may punish you if you don't then in my mind you're worse than the people who are doing the punishing.
posted by seanyboy at 8:25 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


As one last aside, is there any law that protects the rights of freelance creative professionals to discriminate?

Do I have to paint a portrait of this 40 year old skin-head? Do I have to photograph this clan wedding?

Want something more constitutionally recognized? Do I have to do Scientologist weddings? Snake Handlers? Nation of Islam?


If your business is open to the public at large, you have a duty to serve the public.

It's okay to have a business which is discriminating about the clients it serves. You can require an audition process and select only the clients who suite your ascetic choices, or whatever. You can't, however, selectively apply the criteria. The process of selection has to be an integral part of your business, all the time. You still can't use sexual orientation, religion, gender, or race as criteria, of course, but why would any non-bigot want to?
posted by Chuckles at 8:33 AM on June 20, 2008


seanyboy, the thing is, the guy who wrote the piece hasn't turned anyone away for sexual orientation, nor has he stated that he intends to, nor has he evinced support for bigotry of any sort. He is raising questions, and seems to be looking for the best way forward. On re-reading the piece, I don't think Cayton has any intention to discriminate against gay people, or any one else. Is it really so terrible to wonder about the best way forward legally and ethically in this kind of sticky situation? Is it so terrible to seek opinions about what one can do to act legally and ethically, to treat everyone fairly, while simultaneously preserving one's livelihood? People here are condemning this guy for something he hasn't done.
posted by Mister_A at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2008


I don't understand the libertarian mindset at all.

That's because libertarians are fucking morons. You need to step back and view it all from that light.
posted by chunking express at 8:47 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


I've come to the conclusion that libertarianism is the political equivalent of Satanism--they both sound better than "apathetic contrarianism."
posted by EarBucket at 8:56 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


Ron Paul is a satanist?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2008


I've photographed my fair share of weddings and the one lesbian wedding I had the privilege to document was by far the standout in a varied field. Maybe it's because it had a tinge of civil disobedience or maybe it's because both brides wore white gowns and the symmetry was so beautiful or maybe it's because I got to witness true love in the face of one of the last great civil rights struggles... It's the only wedding I've shot at which I got a little misty-eyed. If I could, I would be happy to shoot gay weddings exclusively- but then that may get me in trouble for discriminating against straight folks.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 9:14 AM on June 20, 2008


Ron Paul is a satanist?

I think he might prefer Luciferian-American.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:22 AM on June 20, 2008


I think that there's a difference between refusing to rent a house to a gay person or refusing to sell a product to a gay person and refusing to take pictures at a gay wedding.

It's the creative aspect of photography. I think we'd have problems with a law compelling an artist to paint whatever anyone with a handful of cash told him to. Would you be comfortable with a law that commanded a biographer to write about a gay person rather than a straight person?

On the other hand, wedding photography is different from most other art forms in that it's a paid service, like a portrait studio. It's a sort of commerical art.

It's a gray area, and the harsh invective seen upthread isn't helpful.
posted by JDHarper at 9:24 AM on June 20, 2008


It's a gray area

it would arguably be if that were the reason why the photographer is hesitant to offer his services to gay couples.

But that's not the case, so it's not.
posted by tachikaze at 9:30 AM on June 20, 2008


THE GOVERNMENT IS GOOD! YAY BIG BROTHER! DOWN WITH GOLDSTEINISM! SEXCRIME DOUBLEPLUSUNGOOD!

[a few posts later] Any chance for dialogue is apparently done.

Gee, I wonder how that happened?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


there is a substantial risk of monetary harm in Colorado Springs

As there was when non-segregated lunch counters were mandated. It's not any different.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:44 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The idea that the government should not protect the equal rights of it's citizens is just laughable. A business doesn't have the right to withhold services from someone simply because of who they are, for the same reason we don't get a referendum on civil rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
posted by nola at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2008


Guys, we need to consider the rights of racists and homophobes to hurt people. You're not really in favor of rights if you're against the rights of racists and homophobes to hurt people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:57 AM on June 20, 2008


It is fun to note that the article is placed right next to photographs of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King.
posted by Weebot at 9:57 AM on June 20, 2008


I think arguments like these are why people that call themselves photojournalists feel superior to people that call themselves wedding photographers. I don't mean that one is better than the other. I just mean that lots of PJs use the term "wedding photographer" derisively, because weddings are often scripted, and the challenges would appear not to change from one wedding to another.

Photojournalists in America are supposed to avoid even the appearance of bias. (at least, for most of the last century, and now.) That means we don't get to honk when we see protesters supporting our side; we can't go to a candidate's fundraising party, and we can't refuse an assignment based on our religious or philosophical beliefs.

For my paper, I have shot a gay pride festival. The week before that, I shot a group of street preachers who, I found out later, believe that crashing the gay pride festival by lying prostrate "to show no threatening intent" and reading the Bible might persuade people to stop being gay. Does my photographer make me an endorser or supporter of either? No. It makes me an observer of both.

If I went the wedding photojournalism route, anyone who didn't understand the difference between observing and agreeing is too stupid for my time. That makes me an elitist. It would mean I would have an intelligence test for my clients.

COUNTERPOINT:

Part of having the right to publish anything I want (as part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as Section 8 of the New York State Constitution) also gives me the right to refuse publication of things I don't want to publish. I shouldn't be forced under the law to create and publish my work for any reason, ever.

This is not the same as a restaurant, taxi, store, or other general service. This is about the creation and publication of one-of-a-kind intellectual property. If I don't want to create that for you, I'll tell you to find someone else.
posted by bugmuncher at 9:59 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


ick... "Does my photography make me an endorser or supporter of either?" should have been there instead of photographer in the third graf. Sorry.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:00 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I argue that they're a business and should be taxed as such.

You can go back and forth on how they should be exempt because they're non-profit or that they should pay because they use tax-funded services, blah blah blah.

The real problem is that business taxes and loopholes and tax breaks are always a political game. Legislatures are always favoring one industry over another, often one business over a competitor. It would be a really bad idea to make religions subject to this same process.

Churches would need full-time lobbyists just to stay even. If churches had to pay taxes, I can guarantee that mosques and every other minority religion would be dicked around at the state and local (and maybe even federal) levels in a million different ways. And legislatures would find a million excuses to give the Southern Baptists all kinds of tax breaks.
posted by straight at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a gray area, and the harsh invective seen upthread isn't helpful.

Here's some more unhelpful invective: bollocks.

When did you last hear of a wedding photographer turning down well paying work because the subject lacked aesthetic interest?

While I'm sure that the short order cook at your local diner gets some degree of job satisfaction from the creative choices he makes as he flips the burgers, freedom of creative expression is *not* the reason why he takes the job at the greasy spoon.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:20 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Churches would need full-time lobbyists just to stay even.

Yeah, the entire Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches being Christians wouldn't be enough.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:26 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


A photographer is not a religious position and has no official place in the ceremony. He's just a guy that's paid to take pictures. I'm not sure whether it's anybody's business what kinds of weddings he does.
posted by empath at 10:28 AM on June 20, 2008


I'm not sure whether it's anybody's business what kinds of weddings he does.

It's nobody's business who you fuck, but that sure isn't stopping some people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:30 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I'm seeing more strong disapproval than open anger in this thread, but I can understand the people who are openly angry. If this little bit of anti-gay blowback is this hard for him to digest, imagine what it's like around there for the out gay people themselves. Well, those are the people he is contemplating lumping further insult and injury on, because he doesn't want to experience any of the side effects of the anti-gay sentiment that is such a problem in his community. How to to ignore his proposal that a viable option for avoiding being the victim of homophobia is to be a perpetrator of homophobia?

Out gay people in his region probably have to work harder than their straight colleagues to be taken seriously in their careers. To a lesser extent, he may need to go to some extra lengths to distinguish himself as the go-to photographer despite the black mark of queer-friendliness. If they can figure out how to make a living there in accordance with their ethics, he can surely manage the much smaller challenge he's being presented with if he decides to actually engage it.

If you want the right to invoke the Civil Rights movement every time you discuss this struggle, you too have to learn to be firm, righteous, humble and polite all at the same time.

It has correctly been invoked in a discussion about a civil rights issue, and it goes without saying that it is for each person to decide for themselves whether they have the right to invoke it, saint or otherwise.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 10:33 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is Sexual orientation a protected class in Colorado or the U.S. as a whole?

I though only some states on the coasts have those laws.
posted by Megafly at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2008


sotonohito writes "Of course, I'm in the minority that thinks the tax exempt status of religious groups is a bad thing, so I realize my viewpoint on that one may not be popular."

I'm with ya.

Tax the churches.
Tax the businesses owned by the churches.

- Frank Zappa
posted by krinklyfig at 10:49 AM on June 20, 2008


empath writes "A photographer is not a religious position and has no official place in the ceremony. He's just a guy that's paid to take pictures. I'm not sure whether it's anybody's business what kinds of weddings he does."

He owns a business which serves the public, and as such he cannot violate discrimination laws.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


JDHarper writes "I think that there's a difference between refusing to rent a house to a gay person or refusing to sell a product to a gay person and refusing to take pictures at a gay wedding."

Well, certain laws affect housing differently, but you can't discriminate against certain groups as a private business and be in compliance with federal law, at the least. State laws also may apply. IANAL. Refrigerate after opening.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:58 AM on June 20, 2008


When did you last hear of a wedding photographer turning down well paying work because the subject lacked aesthetic interest?

I can't off the top of my head, but I've heard of it a number of times. Photog is booked by a couple and then a better looking couple wants the same date or maybe it's a destination wedding on an exotic island. Suddenly the photog needs to back out for some emergency. Usually the photg will try to line up an alternative shooter for the couple. Some photogs get a lot of their work in the form of these referrals. Usually these referrals are because the conflict is in the form of a more lucrative wedding that has materialized, but the value of good portfolio images can't be overstated. I'm just saying that the truth is a little different than you might guess, which I'm assuming you must be doing. Obviously this information isn't widely disseminated. I don't mind sharing it because I think it's a lame practice.
posted by lazymonster at 11:05 AM on June 20, 2008


can't remember that is
posted by lazymonster at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2008


GLBTs have generally responded to this kind of discrimination by having rich alternative methods of networking and advertising. I think Mr. Clayton will be surprised to know how many commitment ceremonies are going on in his community, and the fact that many those people likely already know of a queer or queer-friendly photographer in the network, and are willing to pay extra money to patronize supporting businesses.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:09 AM on June 20, 2008


If this little bit of anti-gay blowback is this hard for him to digest, imagine what it's like around there for the out gay people themselves. Well, those are the people he is contemplating lumping further insult and injury on, because he doesn't want to experience any of the side effects of the anti-gay sentiment that is such a problem in his community. How to to ignore his proposal that a viable option for avoiding being the victim of homophobia is to be a perpetrator of homophobia?

This. EXACTLY.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:10 AM on June 20, 2008


My wife and I do wedding invitations and just recently we attended a gay wedding expo in Seattle to showcase our work to gay couples. We didn't even think twice about whether or not to do business for gay weddings. And while Seattle is vastly different than Colorado Springs, I still wonder how you would lose business by working with gay couples. You don't have to say 'I support gay marriage' on your business card, and you don't have to tell your straight clients 'just so you know, I support gay marriage' to make sure its ok with them. If you're worried about backlash, you can keep your website samples restricted to your straight work, but that's no reason to turn down a valid client just because they are gay. This is ludicrous and totally blown out of proportion.
posted by braksandwich at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2008


Pope Guilty writes "Yeah, the entire Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches being Christians wouldn't be enough."

This might be shocking to the casual observer but not every church in the US is Christian.
posted by Mitheral at 11:26 AM on June 20, 2008


So, should a California photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a KKK White Power wedding, complete with swastika cake?

Should a vegetarian photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a wedding reception where pate de fois gras is served?

Should anyone be forced to violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs simply to remain in business, particularly when there are others more than willing to serve the clients in question?

Is it okay to be a hypocrite as long as you are a liberal or an atheist?
posted by konolia at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2008


"This might be shocking to the casual observer but not every church in the US is Christian."

Jews worship at synagogues, Muslims at mosques, Mormons at temples. There might be a few churches of Satan, or other borderline cases, but nearly every "church," in the sense of "building," in the US is Christian.
posted by explosion at 11:35 AM on June 20, 2008


All those things are ok because they aren't protected classes.

konolia writes "Should anyone be forced to violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs simply to remain in business, particularly when there are others more than willing to serve the clients in question?"

Where the heck in any religious text does it say "Thou shall not photograph gay weddings" or even "Thou shall not be in the presence of gay people"?
posted by Mitheral at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2008


Come on, Mitheral. You start spending time with gays, the next thing you know you're eating dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes.
posted by EarBucket at 11:39 AM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


So, should a California photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a KKK White Power wedding, complete with swastika cake?

Of course. Being a bigot is not a protected class.

Should a vegetarian photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a wedding reception where pate de fois gras is served?

Of course. Meat-eating is not protected from discrimination, either.

Should anyone be forced to violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs simply to remain in business, particularly when there are others more than willing to serve the clients in question?

Yes, when it is illegal to do so.

Is it okay to be a hypocrite as long as you are a liberal or an atheist?

Of course not, don't be ridiculous. If your religious beliefs conflict with serving the public, which means you are subject to anti-discrimination laws, you need to find something else to do with your life.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


This discussion makes me curious about something: Say that I run a garage and I belong to the Main Street Pastafarian Church. If I offer free oil changes to everyone in my church, am I guilty of discrimination because I don't offer the same to the Main Street Druids? Can I be forced to do so?

If the answer is "no" because my church is considered a circle of friends or something, what happens if I offer free oil changes to all Pastafarians and only Pastafarians? What would happen if the Socialized Pastafarian religion dictated free oil changes for Pastafarians?

Have there been any court decisions on cases similar to what I've described?
posted by joaquim at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2008


Sigh. Oh, konolia, konolia, konolia...

It's sure great to have my benign existence lazily lumped in with terrorist hate clubs. Also, what XQUZYPHYR said.

How does doing business with gay folk "violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs"? He's there to take pictures, not fuck the best man.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dang, preview:

Where the heck in any religious text does it say "Thou shall not photograph gay weddings" or even "Thou shall not be in the presence of gay people"?

You should know better than to ask her that question.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2008


explosion writes "Jews worship at synagogues, Muslims at mosques, Mormons at temples. There might be a few churches of Satan, or other borderline cases, but nearly every 'church,' in the sense of 'building,' in the US is Christian."

Churches in my, straight's and Pope Guilty's comments refereence the organization not the building. For example the Church of Scientology.
posted by Mitheral at 11:42 AM on June 20, 2008


joaquim Interesting questions and I'd like to know the answers myself.
posted by sotonohito at 11:44 AM on June 20, 2008


Is it okay to be a hypocrite as long as you are a liberal or an atheist?

Just because someone draws a line somewhere other than the extremes of "a wedding photographer must photograph any wedding he is asked to do, regardless of the circumstances" and "a wedding photographer is free to reject any invitation he receives, regardless of the reason why" does not make that person a hypocrite. You may believe in one of these two extremes, but someone else taking a more nuanced position is hardly hypocrisy.

Some people believe no one should be permitted to buy alcoholic beverages. Some people believe everyone, regardless of age, should be permitted to buy alcoholic beverages. Most people, I think, believe that some people, but not others, should be permitted to buy beverages. The failure to take one of the extreme positions does not make those people hypocrites.

You may find the position "discrimination on the basis of intelligence or politics or vegitarianism is acceptable; discrimination on the basis of race or gender or sexual orientation is not" abhorrent, but whatever else it may be, it is not hypocritical.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


for the record, if I were a photographer, I'd probably photograph the wedding in question, but there are some people who would truly feel that they were abetting something that God absolutely hated by doing that. Should they have to choose between pissing off God and pissing off a potential client?

That has a bit less to do with discrimination and a bit more to do with one's standing with God. I would not want a business breaking their own moral code to do business with me...in fact I could argue that a gay couple might choose to discriminate against me as a Christian photographer. And I really don't have a problem with that either.

I am not in this thread to start the same old argument but simply to point out that there are certainly multiple ways of looking at this.
posted by konolia at 11:47 AM on June 20, 2008


Megafly: Not federally, as far as I can tell.

As for Colorado, there was an amendment to the state constitution in 1992 that banned the state from recognizing sexual orientation as a protected class. Injunctions were filed, courts petitioned, and the case ended up in the US Supreme Court, which struck it down as unconstitutional in 1995. Fast-forward 15 years, and you have Colorado passing Senate Bill 200, which extended protected class status to sexual orientation.
posted by Weebot at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2008


I am not in this thread to start the same old argument but simply to point out that there are certainly multiple ways of looking at this.


No, there really aren't. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is morally abhorrent, no matter how you slice it. The same arguments were trotted out when the USA was desegregated. Unlike cheese and wine, the passage of time does not make morally bankrupt arguments any better.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:50 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Excuse me. The Supreme Court struck it down in 1996, not 1995.
posted by Weebot at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2008


Churches in my, straight's and Pope Guilty's comments refereence the organization not the building. For example the Church of Scientology.

So when we say Church, now we mean for-profit, doctrine-spewing groups that wish to oppress people?
posted by explosion at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2008


From the article:
Put aside for a moment your own values. Would it hurt or help your business to photograph same-sex commitment ceremonies or weddings?
Welcome to Conservatism. Your personal values are relevant only if you profit by them; be it in cash or in votes.
posted by vertigo25 at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2008


It has correctly been invoked in a discussion about a civil rights issue, and it goes without saying that it is for each person to decide for themselves whether they have the right to invoke it, saint or otherwise.

Of course anyone can invoke it if they want. Whether or not that comparison will have its intended effect on their audience depends on their personal conduct. One can claim the moral authority of the Selma Marchers as much as one likes, but if he or she does so while giving me the finger I'm unlikely to listen. I guess it depends on whether one is making the comparison out of arrogant self-righteousness or a genuine desire to convince people.

And treating a well-meaning stranger with a modicum of respect and sincerity, instead of unleashing the snark cannons and insinuating he's a bigot at the slightest hint of ignorance, doesn't require sainthood. Patience and charity, yes, but those are virtues that everyone can and should practice.
posted by xthlc at 12:08 PM on June 20, 2008


Is Sexual orientation a protected class in Colorado or the U.S. as a whole? I though only some states on the coasts have those laws.

Regarding state protection:
"Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia have policies that protect against both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in the public and private sector.

Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin have state laws that protect agaist discrimination based on sexual orientation only. Fifteen other states have laws that have been interpreted to protect transgender persons.

Only New Jersey, Washington, and Wisconsin prohibit discrimination against the LGBT community."*
Regarding federal protection, there is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) working its way through the system.
posted by ericb at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2008


Colorado has been an interesting battleground state. In general, communities west of I-25 (college and mountain-resort towns like Boulder, Aspen, Telluride, etc) are progressive and tolerant. Communities east of I-25 (lots of farmland, generally) are conservative and, well, not so tolerant. I can remember being at a party in Boulder on election night 1992 when everyone was getting really exuberant over Bill Clinton's presidential win — finally, the country was breaking the Republican stranglehold on the White House. Folks were really excited until late in the night, when the newscasters started to make reference to the anti-gay Amendment 2, which polls showed being easily defeated, showing unexpected strength.

Amendment 2 to the state constitution had been floated and supported by the evangelicals massed in Colorado Springs, and to some degree by the conservative folks in the eastern part of the state. It was written specifically to roll back civil-rights gains — Boulder, Aspen, and Denver had all passed laws prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians, and Amendment 2 was designed to modify the state constitution to nullify those laws. That was a nasty, nasty time. Happily, the amendment never actually took effect and was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

According to Wikipedia, there is finally a law on the books that prohibits discrimination by employers in Colorado based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And there's also a new amendment blocking same-sex marriages. So — as usual in Colorado — you win some and you lose some.

I fled Colorado 15 years ago in a rented U-Haul, but I don't envy anyone who has to consider the fiscal ramifications of making gay-friendly business decisions in an atmosphere of such toxic social politics as exists in Colorado Springs. I guess that's why I empathize with this guy — even though I agree that a decision not to photograph gay weddings would be morally indefensible, I totally understand why the idea makes him nervous.

I'm certainly glad Mefites are stepping up to underscore the idea that treating all people fairly and decently is the only right thing to do, I just found the attacks near the top of the thread dismaying. Sometimes doing the right thing is really hard, and scary. That doesn't mean it's OK not to do the right thing, but it's also important to recognize what fair-minded people living in very intolerant environments are going through. They should be enlightened and encouraged — not scorned, snarked at and mocked for even raising the question.
posted by Joey Bagels at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is morally abhorrent, no matter how you slice it.

But then you seem to be saying that discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs is not only all right, but required.

That doesn't seem right to me, either.
posted by konolia at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's there to take pictures, not fuck the best man.

so that's what I've been doing wrong.
Damnit.
posted by heeeraldo at 12:11 PM on June 20, 2008


Anti-discrimination laws involving sexual orientation.
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2008


Rep. Barney Frank | September 2007: Our Fight For Anti-Discrimination Laws.
posted by ericb at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2008


According to Wikipedia, there is finally a law on the books that prohibits discrimination by employers in Colorado based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

More on Colorado.
"Over fierce post-session attacks from Christian groups like Focus on the Family, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) signed a bill (S.B. 200 [PDF]) into law on May 29, 2008, adding sexual orientation protections, including gender identity, to non-discrimination statutes for 23 areas, including the denial of membership in a union or labor organization, housing practices, public accommodations, eligibility for jury service, managed health care plans, publicly financed projects, school districts, merit systems and the availability of family planning services, among other areas. Sponsored by Senator Jennifer Veiga (D) and Representative Joel Judd (D), the law will also add sex, marital status, disability, age, national origin, ancestry and religion protections to those non-discrimination statutes as needed. The law takes effect immediately. Unlike other bills, which are signed with public ceremonies and separate news releases, media reports indicate that Ritter simply signed the bill in his office.

The law expands upon another law (S.B. 07-25) enacted during the 2007 legislative session amending Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act to prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation (including gender identity) or religion. That law, which provided workplace protections to homosexual, bisexual and transgendered employees, went into effect on August 8, 2007. Besides Colorado, 12 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting both sexual orientation and gender identity. California, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington in the public and private sector. Another seven states, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin, have laws prohibiting discrimination just based on sexual orientation. Prior to the amendment, the Anti-Discrimination Act only protected employees based on race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, and ancestry.

The 2008 legislation, which does not focus on employment discrimination per se, instead concentrates on providing housing and public accommodations protections to individuals based on their sexual orientation."
posted by ericb at 12:18 PM on June 20, 2008


But then you seem to be saying that discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs is not only all right, but required.

That doesn't seem right to me, either.


The people in this story aren't being "discriminated against" because of their religious beliefs, they're being discriminated against because they broke the laws of the place that they live in. If someone wants to believe that gay marriage should only be photographed by people who approve of gay marriage, that person shouldn't be a photographer.

It doesn't matter if the reason for not wanting to photograph gay weddings is a religious or a non-religious one. It matters if people are breaking the law.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:23 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


But then you seem to be saying that discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs is not only all right, but required.

Your beliefs are a choice. Sexual orientation is not--nor are gender, race, age, etc., which are all protected from discrimination.

Get it through your thick skull: you are not being persecuted. Gays and lesbians and trannies are persecuted and discriminated against on a daily basis. You have the choice to practice your religion. What you do not have the choice to do is discriminate against other people. Welcome to the real world, I know it's a new place for you.

Again, if you are a business owner (or other service provider, such as, oh, a pharmacist who is anti birth control on religious grounds) and your religious beliefs interfere with what you do--find something new to do, rather than discriminating against people, which is something that your Jesus was pretty dead-set against.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is somewhat tangential, but we do have a legal precedent dating back to the late-nineteeth century of prosecuting criminalized activity even if it's religiously compelled. Violating anti-discrimination laws, I would assume, would fall under this category.

That said, it isn't clear to me that Senate Bill 200 would actually mean anything in this situation.
posted by Weebot at 12:26 PM on June 20, 2008


...many those people likely already know of a queer or queer-friendly photographer in the network, and are willing to pay extra money to patronize supporting businesses.

Yep ... beyond 'word-of-mouth' Colorado folk will likely turn to directories such as Pink Pages Denver for gay-friendly photographers.
posted by ericb at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2008


they were abetting something that God absolutely hated by doing that...

My God -- and that of many more -- doesn't hate gays. He loves them, as he loves all.
posted by ericb at 12:37 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "for the record, if I were a photographer, I'd probably photograph the wedding in question, but there are some people who would truly feel that they were abetting something that God absolutely hated by doing that. Should they have to choose between pissing off God and pissing off a potential client?"

What if God told the photographer that interracial couples were sinful, and the implication was that their current same-race-couple clients wouldn't like it?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2008


Do I have to photograph this clan wedding?

I supose you mean "Klan", unless you really hate Scottish people. : )

I think there is a distinction that many people would draw between discrimination against someone for their race, sex, sexual orientation or religion, and discrimination against someone for their behaviour or personal philosophy. Bars don't have to serve drunk people or people without shirts, and you don't have to photograph the KKK, and no one would get upset about that or suggest that this discrimination is wrong.

I don't know how the line between religion and philosophy is drawn, but I can feel it. I think it would be like the difference between refusing to photograph a wedding because of the couple are X religion, versus refusing to photograph a X wedding where the bride was underage. It's not about the religion, it's about the specific couple.

The problem is that some people believe that being gay is just such a personal choice, and so they should not be protected, while others insist that it is not and thus should be protected against discrimination.
posted by jb at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2008


What if God told the photographer that interracial couples were sinful, and the implication was that their current same-race-couple clients wouldn't like it?

But according to konolia, God would never say that. Gays are different, y'see.

Yeah, I know.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:43 PM on June 20, 2008


Related: New Mexcio came across this same problem and ruled that wedding photographers were considered a public accommodation, and therefore subject to anti-descrimination law. Some things to note, however:

1) New Mexico's state rulings have no direct effect on Colorado law.
2) This ruling is under appeal.
3) New Mexico doesn't allow same-sex marriage; this is concerning a commitment ceremony.

This does give a glimpse of where this type of situation might go in Colorado if it were ever to occur.
posted by Weebot at 12:45 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "But then you seem to be saying that discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs is not only all right, but required."

A pro-white business cannot pick their clients on that basis, at least not legally. If your religious beliefs clash with this, then it's too bad, the law still applies. But the discrimination in question doesn't happen to the business which must abide by federal and state law. The discrimination happens to those unfortunate clients that the pro-white business refuses to serve. A business which is legally forced to deal with the public and not discriminate is not the victim, no matter how you slice it. Your private life can still be full of hate and bigotry, and you can legally express and even publish your opinions, but you can't foist it onto others in the course of business where it concerns hiring/firing and customers. A community of like-minded businesses can effectively shut out whole groups of people entirely otherwise, which is what happened when black-only/white-only business rules were legal.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2008


Well, krinklyfig, I think I'd prefer to select a photographer who could deal with how cute a couple my daughter and her husband are.

You have the choice to practice your religion

Oh, but not if forced to do something that is AGAINST that religion.

Okay, let's say you are a Sikh. Who is required to wear a turban as a condition of his faith. Does Disney have the right to not hire him because he doesn't have the "disney look?" Obviously he CHOSE to wear that turban, and can take it off. He wasn't born with it attached.

Is that okay?

I don't think it is okay to be mean to someone, period. And as far as dragging racism into this, the majority of religions that I know about all say that racism is a sin. If you were a preacher early in the last century, and you were in a county that forbade marriages between people of different races, should you obey that law and refuse to marry two individuals who were of different races? Remember, it's the LAW.....

And to quote a character in my favorite movie..."The Law? That's a HUMAN institution."
posted by konolia at 12:50 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "Oh, but not if forced to do something that is AGAINST that religion."

If your religion tells you that you must be bigoted, then I have no sympathy, sorry. Find a way to exist in the world with God and the rest of us, because until you get called to Heaven, you have to deal with the rest of us.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, but not if forced to do something that is AGAINST that religion.

Photographing gays is AGAINST your religion? Really? I suspect that you've snapped a photo or two of gays at your church supper, your son's recent graduation ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell"). Your camera and you likely survived and God blessed you for finally being inclusive, accepting and non-jedgmental, as He has always sought his followers to be.
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2008


*judgmental*
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "And as far as dragging racism into this, the majority of religions that I know about all say that racism is a sin."

But that's the exact opposite of what was being said at the time, in the '60s (and previous, and unfortunately, sometimes today as well). Interracial marriage was considered a "sin." People used vague references in the Bible to support their arguments, much like the anti-gay arguments made today. In fact they are the same exact arguments, just switch race with sexual orientation.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia writes "Okay, let's say you are a Sikh. Who is required to wear a turban as a condition of his faith. Does Disney have the right to not hire him because he doesn't have the 'disney look?' Obviously he CHOSE to wear that turban, and can take it off. He wasn't born with it attached."

That's a good question. Many Sikhs are not required to wear their headdress at all times, however - I have worked with Sikhs in the past. Many businesses in California are friendly to the attire, even if there is a uniform. What if the job required you to change your religion?

Are you arguing that sexual orientation is a choice? Certainly, choosing to marry someone who is of a different race is a choice.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2008


Oh, but not if forced to do something that is AGAINST that religion.

No one is being forced to do anything against their religion. Any religious photographer who has a moral objection to photographing gay weddings can keep being religious if they give up being a photographer.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:05 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interracial marriage was considered a "sin." People used vague references in the Bible to support their arguments...

Exactly. As they used the story of Phinehas and the "curse of Ham," as referring to miscegenation and that these verses expressly forbid it.

Again selective application of Biblical literalism.

Even folks who have a daughter who is in a mixed-race marriage (with a mixed race grand child) seem to (falsely) interpret Bible verse to discriminate against gays. Selective bigotry indeed.
posted by ericb at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia: Okay, let's say you are a Sikh. Who is required to wear a turban as a condition of his faith. Does Disney have the right to not hire him because he doesn't have the "disney look?" Obviously he CHOSE to wear that turban, and can take it off. He wasn't born with it attached.

Which is something that has me scratching my head. Isn't religion already a protected class in regards to Title VII? Of course, Disney is exploiting a loophole in Title VII which allows employers to establish neutral bona fide job requirements as long as those requirements are not created just to discriminate against a specific group. (You can have a rule that prohibits explicit facial markings. You can't have a rule preventing people from having ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday.)

There is another obvious loophole for churches and photographers who really care about this issue.

I don't think it is okay to be mean to someone, period.

Bwahahahahaha.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2008


Oh, but not if forced to do something that is AGAINST that religion.

No, you don't have a choice if your behaviour is discriminatory. Well done, that's astonishingly perceptive for you.

Okay, let's say you are a Sikh. Who is required to wear a turban as a condition of his faith. Does Disney have the right to not hire him because he doesn't have the "disney look?" Obviously he CHOSE to wear that turban, and can take it off. He wasn't born with it attached.

Religion is also a protected class; you may not be discriminated against as an employee or as a customer on the basis of your religion. Disney needs to change its practices. Will they? Probably not.

I don't think it is okay to be mean to someone, period.

My irony meter just pegged.

And as far as dragging racism into this, the majority of religions that I know about all say that racism is a sin.

Religious justifications for racism were thick on the ground when segregation still existed in the USA. Nice try, but no.

If you were a preacher early in the last century, and you were in a county that forbade marriages between people of different races, should you obey that law and refuse to marry two individuals who were of different races? Remember, it's the LAW

An unjust and discriminatory one, and a poor argument. Nice try.

And to quote a character in my favorite movie..."The Law? That's a HUMAN institution."

Yes, and we live in a HUMAN world, where whatever our religious beliefs we must obey HUMAN laws.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2008


I don't think it is okay to be mean to someone, period.

::head asplodes::
posted by Mayor West at 1:10 PM on June 20, 2008


Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is morally abhorrent

sez you. many people find homosexual behavior morally abhorrent. just sayin...
posted by quonsar at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2008


Ah, the shameful past of anti-miscegenation laws in the United States.
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2008


many people find homosexual behavior morally abhorrent.

I know you're just trolling, but... the difference between me and them is that their opinions materially affect my life when they get them enacted into law, and when they act on them outside of or in contravention to the law.

My actions don't affect them one bit.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:16 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


he difference between me and them is that their opinions materially affect my life when they get them enacted into law

you mean, like a law classifying a sexual orientation as a protected minority?
posted by quonsar at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, the First Circuit says that employers have no duty to accomodate religious belief vis a vis dress codes. Here's the opinion. That doesn't apply to Disneyland or Colorado, though. I can't find anything about it regarding the ninth or tenth circuit. The logic behind the tenth's opinion — that it places an undue burden on the employer— doesn't apply to this wedding situation, though so this is a non sequiter.

Looking through the opinion, this quote stands out:
"'Some courts have found that clean-shavenness is a bona fide occupational qualification in certain businesses and, in those situations, as long as the employer's grooming requirement is not directed at religion, enforcing the policy is not an unlawful discriminatory practice.'"
posted by Weebot at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2008


quonsar writes "sez you. many people find homosexual behavior morally abhorrent. just sayin..."

Well, slavery is also morally abhorrent.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:23 PM on June 20, 2008


oh, and you say that as if you have some sort of right to be materially unaffected in life by any actions or legislation or even opinion whatsoever. ridiculous. plenty of behavior will materially affect you. it's only with regard to *this* behavior that you are offended by the fact.
posted by quonsar at 1:24 PM on June 20, 2008


you mean, like a law classifying a sexual orientation as a protected minority?

Yeah, I do. Their actions seek to discriminate and harm. Mine don't. Stop trolling, douchebag.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia: If you were a preacher early in the last century, and you were in a county that forbade marriages between people of different races, should you obey that law and refuse to marry two individuals who were of different races? Remember, it's the LAW

Of course, the religious sacrament of marriage has absolutely nothing to do with the legal institution of marriage. Religious groups can continue to do what they've done since the middle ages, refuse to recognize unions that violate their doctrines, and recognize unions that are not supported by local law.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2008


quonsar writes "you mean, like a law classifying a sexual orientation as a protected minority?"

Preventing people from being discriminated against does not make the people who would discriminate against them into victims, no matter how you try to twist it.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:25 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


oh, and you say that as if you have some sort of right to be materially unaffected in life by any actions or legislation or even opinion whatsoever.

I have the right to be free of discrimination. So does everyone. Nice try.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:26 PM on June 20, 2008


quonsar writes "oh, and you say that as if you have some sort of right to be materially unaffected in life by any actions or legislation or even opinion whatsoever."

Your argument seems to be that, if your religion requires you to be bigoted in your business dealings, that should be protected as a religious right. That's absurd. The constitution protects your right to express bigotry as an individual, but the law does not allow you to practice your bigotry in your business dealings with the public. That still doesn't make you, the bigot, a victim.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:30 PM on June 20, 2008


He's just trolling, krinklyfig. My bad for taking the bait.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:31 PM on June 20, 2008


No one is being forced to do anything against their religion. Any religious photographer who has a moral objection to photographing gay weddings can keep being religious if they give up being a photographer.

So if I were gay, and I hated Christians, it would be so very tempting to make sure Christians could not be photographers, or landlords, or businesspeople...after awhile, if I was diligent and crafty about it, they'd be reduced to begging on sidewalks.

Yeah, that was kinda silly, even for me, but I just want you to acknowledge that in the way to getting what YOU want you are trampling on someone ELSE's rights. That may not be your intention or your desire, but there IS a conflict here and I would like you to acknowlege it.

Would you force a rabbi to eat a ham sandwich? Or, more to the point, would you like to see to it that a religious person could never own a legal business without violating his or her conscience? Just how valuable is a human conscience?
posted by konolia at 1:32 PM on June 20, 2008


you know, all this talk about the gay marriage just makes the tragic shambles of my love life seem all the bleaker...

can i sue a wedding photographer for refusing service based on the fact that i am single?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Would I like to see to it that no religious person could ever own a business without violating his or her conscience? No.

Would I like to see to it that some particular religious people, the dictates of whose consciences I find morally abhorrent, could never own a legal business without violating those dictates? Yes, very much so.

It would not trouble me at all if, for example, Fred Phelps were unable to own a business operated in accordance with his conscience.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:41 PM on June 20, 2008


Actually, that brings me to another question.

What if a wedding photographer refused a couple because they had been previously living together?

What if a wedding photographer refused a couple because one had been previously divorced?

What if a wedding photographer refused a couple because the bride was pregnant with another man's child?

What if a wedding photographer refused a couple because he happened to know they were dope dealers?

What if a wedding photographer refused a couple because HE was previously married to the bride?


Should the photographer just quit being a photographer?
posted by konolia at 1:42 PM on June 20, 2008


So if I were gay, and I hated Christians, it would be so very tempting to make sure Christians could not be photographers, or landlords, or businesspeople...

Pray tell, how would you accomplish such? Call in the Gay Mafia?
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on June 20, 2008


So, then, DA, SOME people get to make moral judgements and others do not? On what basis do we award the privilege?
posted by konolia at 1:44 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia: None of those are protected classes.
posted by Weebot at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2008


This is getting silly, even for MetaFilter.
posted by Mister_A at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia: None of those are protected classes.

konolia -- maybe this will help you to better understand the topic at hand.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia, it seems clear that you don't understand what 'protected class' means in terms of discrimination.

Actually.. no. I think you understand the distinction quite clearly, but as usual you throw out a whole lot of chaff so that you can claim to be the victim here.

Especially the forcing a rabbi thing.. how on earth is that even relevant?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2008


So if I were gay, and I hated Christians, it would be so very tempting to make sure Christians could not be photographers, or landlords, or businesspeople...after awhile, if I was diligent and crafty about it, they'd be reduced to begging on sidewalks.

That only works if all Christians hate gays so much that they can't do business with them. That's ridiculous. Plenty of Christian photographers would have no problem photographing a gay wedding. Plenty of Christian landlords would have no problem with having gay tenants. Plenty of Christian businesspeople would have not problem with gay clients. If you were gay and hated Christians, there's not a damn thing you'd be able to do to those people.

Yeah, that was kinda silly, even for me, but I just want you to acknowledge that in the way to getting what YOU want you are trampling on someone ELSE's rights. That may not be your intention or your desire, but there IS a conflict here and I would like you to acknowlege it.

Here's what I want: People to obey the laws of the state that they live in, or suffer the consequences of breaking those laws. If they think their laws in their state suck, they can try and change them or move.

What "right" does that take away from people? The "right" to be a photographer? That's not a right. The "right" to illegally discriminate against people? That's not a right. Just because you want to do something doesn't mean you're legally entitled to do it.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:47 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia writes "So if I were gay, and I hated Christians, it would be so very tempting to make sure Christians could not be photographers, or landlords, or businesspeople...after awhile, if I was diligent and crafty about it, they'd be reduced to begging on sidewalks."

Yes, but if you acted in such a manner and were caught, you'd still be facing the same consequences as the business which discriminates against gays.

"Would you force a rabbi to eat a ham sandwich? Or, more to the point, would you like to see to it that a religious person could never own a legal business without violating his or her conscience? Just how valuable is a human conscience?"

If your conscience tells you to discriminate against others in the course of business or government on the basis of race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation, then you can't claim victimhood of your own when the law comes down on you. If that's a problem for your conscience, then maybe the value system which forms the basis of your conscience should be examined more closely, and possibly discarded. Your sacred tradition of bigotry isn't protected by law when you do business, nor should it be.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:48 PM on June 20, 2008


He's there to take pictures, not fuck the best man.

Some cultures believe that to take a picture is to steal all or part of the soul of the person being photographed. What those cultures dont know is that a piece of the photographer's soul is also drawn into the camera for a debauched soul orgy. Hence the reason why photographing gay people is just like having sex with them. Unless you are in prison, 'cause it's not really gay if there aren't any girls around.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:49 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia: So if I were gay, and I hated Christians, it would be so very tempting to make sure Christians could not be photographers, or landlords, or businesspeople...after awhile, if I was diligent and crafty about it, they'd be reduced to begging on sidewalks.

If the law is anything like the federal model, it only kicks in if your business has more than 15 employees. At which point, the business is probably no longer about you and your individual ideas anyway. And as I suggested above, there is a nice big loophole that allows such a business model, and would probably make the job of a wedding photographer much easier.

Would you force a rabbi to eat a ham sandwich?

What a total non-sequitur.

Or, more to the point, would you like to see to it that a religious person could never own a legal business without violating his or her conscience?

Well, personally I think the ability of the small contractor to pick or choose the jobs he or she wants to work for is a great fringe benefit. But if you choose to grow your business beyond a certain size, it's no longer just your little platform to do what you want, and you have to start dealing with obligations like title VII.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "Should the photographer just quit being a photographer?"

As others have mentioned, those aren't protected classes. But, as an answer to your question, probably so. I don't think such a photographer would find much business at all, if, as per your example, s/he "refused a couple because they had been previously living together." Good luck with that photo business!
posted by krinklyfig at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, my next question-why is sexuality a protected class and religion not? We know that legally in some cases religion IS a protected class for the purpose of employment-why not for the purpose of business ownership?

YOu say it is wrong to refuse to photograph a gay wedding. Let's say the conservative fundy Calvinist would consider it sin to photograph the gay wedding. Can you see that no matter how it plays out, SOMEONE is wronged? And that the only reason it is weighted is because a larger subset of people have an agreement on one side rather than the other? That one group is protected at the expense of another group NOT being protected? And that the group who is NOT being protected has rights that are being violated?

The only way this makes sense is if you decide as a group that religious people do not have rights. Maybe not today, maybe not next week, but logically it has to follow.
posted by konolia at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2008


why not for the purpose of business ownership?

Ever heard of the phrase "your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins"?

The only way this makes sense is if you decide as a group that religious people do not have rights. Maybe not today, maybe not next week, but logically it has to follow

No, it really doesn't. You have the right to believe whatever you want. You do not have the right to discriminate. Where those come into conflict, the law wins. Welcome to the real world, Neo.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:56 PM on June 20, 2008


KirkJobSluder writes "If the law is anything like the federal model, it only kicks in if your business has more than 15 employees."

That only applies to employment, not to clients.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:56 PM on June 20, 2008


Especially the forcing a rabbi thing.. how on earth is that even relevant?

Because to a particular business owner who thinks that to photograph that wedding is to condone it, and that to do such would be a sin against God, it would be a MORAL EQUIVALENT.

You are not asking that photographer to live and let live. That he could do and not hurt you or violate his conscience.

You are asking that photographer to eat a metaphorical ham sandwich.
posted by konolia at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2008


Religion is a protected class, but if you break the law you can't use religion as a defense. I mentioned this upthread.
posted by Weebot at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2008


And that the group who is NOT being protected has rights that are being violated?

Dude, I'm not being rhetorical when I say this: Exactly what right does a Christian photographer have that is being violated when that Christian photographer is required by law to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?

No, really, what rights are you talking about?
posted by 23skidoo at 1:58 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "Okay, my next question-why is sexuality a protected class and religion not?"

Religion is a protected class. If a business discriminates against you, like for instance refusing to be hired out to photograph Christian weddings, then the same law comes into play. IOW, a gay person can't similarly discriminate against Christians, as a group. A gay person can refuse to deal with Christian people in his private life and can say anything he wants about them, however.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:59 PM on June 20, 2008


SOME people get to make moral judgements and others do not? On what basis do we award the privilege?

While it is admittedly not an easy question, the short answer is a democratically-elected, representational government. Not a perfect system, I'll admit, but a better one than any other I'm aware of.

On what basis would you choose who gets to make moral judgments?

None of those are protected classes.

In fairness, this seems like a rather weak argument. In many states, sexual orientation is not a protected class. Is it OK for photographers in those states to refuse to photograph gay commitment ceremonies?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:59 PM on June 20, 2008


Because to a particular business owner who thinks that to photograph that wedding is to condone it, and that to do such would be a sin against God, it would be a MORAL EQUIVALENT

That doesn't matter. Again: in the REAL world, we obey REAL laws.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "You are asking that photographer to eat a metaphorical ham sandwich."

You're wrong. But this still doesn't make sense.

Where is the sin in doing business with gay people? Where is the specific chapter and verse that proscribes against it? I still don't get that.

But you still don't understand the primary point. Why not say, for instance, I refuse to do business with atheists, because the Bible says atheism is bad? Or reverse that, and say, I refuse to do business with Jews? Should that be protected behavior?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:02 PM on June 20, 2008


DevilsAdvocate writes "In fairness, this seems like a rather weak argument. In many states, sexual orientation is not a protected class. Is it OK for photographers in those states to refuse to photograph gay commitment ceremonies?"

Where it's not a protected class, it's not illegal to do so. It may not be morally acceptable to some, however, which may be what you're getting at when you ask, "Is it OK?"
posted by krinklyfig at 2:03 PM on June 20, 2008


The only way this makes sense is if you decide as a group that religious people do not have rights.

You are setting up a false dichotomy between "religious people have the right to do whatever their religion commands" and "religious people have no rights at all."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:03 PM on June 20, 2008


Dude, I'm not being rhetorical when I say this: Exactly what right does a Christian photographer have that is being violated when that Christian photographer is required by law to not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation?

No, really, what rights are you talking about?


If my past experience is a guide, konolia's not always good at answering direct questions, so let me field this one: The right to discriminate. What else could it possibly be?
posted by box at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2008


Okay, my next question-why is sexuality a protected class and religion not?

Religion is a protected class, as many have said before in this thread.

Suggestion, konolia, take some time away from this thread to read up on religion as a protected class.

Here, I'll help get you started: Religion or sect - Civil Rights Act of 1964.
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on June 20, 2008


Where it's not a protected class, it's not illegal to do so. It may not be morally acceptable to some, however, which may be what you're getting at when you ask, "Is it OK?"

I guess the point I'm getting at is, if you rely on the illegality of discrimination based on sexual orientation as the basis for condemning such discrimination, that does not provide you with any rationale for arguing that such discrimination should be illegal in places where it is currently legal.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2008


What else could it possibly be?

The right to avoid going to hell for eating a metaphorical ham sandwich is my guess.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2008


You want real world, I will give you real world.

Years ago when I was young I had an ob-gyn who was awesome. He worked for a Catholic hospital and as such was not permitted to prescribe oral contraceptives.

Which I wanted.

He did not prescribe them. What he did do was direct me to another doc in the practice who could.

It turned out to be moot for me as I was already pregnant by then (I wasn't going to take the pill while I was still nursing,but that's a long story and she was an awesome kid, but I digress...)

Let's say for the sake of argument he himself was opposed to the Pill (maybe he was, I didn't bother to ask.) His refusal to prescribe in no way affected my ability to obtain what I wished to get. He did not stand in my way. I didn't have a cow about it. THERE WERE OTHER DOCS RIGHT THERE IN THE SAME OFFICE WHO COULD HELP.

In the real world, people are considerate of other people's viewpoints. In the real world a gay person could realize that it was unkind and unfair to expect someone to violate their religious beliefs when it was entirely UNNECESSARY in order to get photography.

If we lived in a world where only fundamentalist Christians knew the arcane art of photography I could understand the wish to force the issue. But that is not the case.

Why would you want to make a rabbi eat a ham sandwich when you could find a priest who would appreciate it and enjoy it?
posted by konolia at 2:07 PM on June 20, 2008


Christians are sure allergic to being marginalized and persecuted, considering that their religion fetishizes martyrdom. Christ didn't howl for equal rights from the cross, you know; he saw trivialization and humiliation as the inevitable result of being a loving, godly person in a world full of miserable humans. Adopting a truly Christian doctrine ought to be a radical and beautiful act, and chipping away at that doctrine in order to rationalize one's need for a long, comfortable life is a perversion of everything Christ said and did. If Christians ever truly succeed in populating and converting the world, they will have fatally undermined the very foundation that their religion sprang from.

I am not an unkind person. I admire people of faith. I believe they should be protected from harm whenever possible. But any Christian who complains about religious discrimination really isn't taking their own religion seriously enough.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 2:08 PM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


No, really, what rights are you talking about?

The right not to sin.

And biblically, we are supposed to not sin even if law requires it. See the book of Daniel-where Nebuchadnezzar threw three Hebrews into a fiery furnace for not obeying the law that they bow to a very large golden statue.
posted by konolia at 2:09 PM on June 20, 2008


Christians are sure allergic to being marginalized and persecuted, considering that their religion fetishizes martyrdom. Christ didn't howl for equal rights from the cross, you know; he saw trivialization and humiliation as the inevitable result of being a loving, godly person in a world full of miserable humans. Adopting a truly Christian doctrine ought to be a radical and beautiful act, and chipping away at that doctrine in order to rationalize one's need for a long, comfortable life is a perversion of everything Christ said and did. If Christians ever truly succeed in populating and converting the world, they will have fatally undermined the very foundation that their religion sprang from.

Uh, what does any of that have to do with anything? Christ died for our SINS.

That is how abhorrent sin is to our Creator.
posted by konolia at 2:12 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia.

CAN YOU PLEASE CITE CHAPTER AND VERSE THAT:

1) FORBIDS GAY MARRIAGE
2) FORBIDS CHRISTIANS FROM TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS OF GAY MARRIAGE

Oh, right.. you can't.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ died for our SINS.

So surely losing one's business and being sued into poverty for practicing discrimination ain't no thing.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "The right not to sin."

What is the sin, specifically, in doing business with gay people? I'm still wondering about that.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:14 PM on June 20, 2008


DevilsAdvocate: I didn't intend to make a moral argument, just a rudimentary legal one, since it seemed that was what we were arguing about.
posted by Weebot at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2008


That has a bit less to do with discrimination and a bit more to do with one's standing with God.

Wait, let's step back. It doesn't have to do with this guy standing with God. It has to do with his wanting to be protected from the fallout from bigots of his doing the right thing--and something he doesn't even object to, based on religion or otherwise. And as someone upthread said, poor him. It's such a hard life to have the secondary effects of what some people deal with every day of their lives. Maybe he is afraid people will think HE's gay because of it? Homo lover. Cry me a river.

Interesting legal question as to whether wedding photography would be a public accomodation, though. Also interesting about what the photog above said about ditching clients for more lucarative/attractive clients.
posted by Pax at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2008


Konolia, what happened to hate the sin and love the sinner? It's easy to cry conscience to veil hating the sinner, but I'd find it a stretch to believe that allowing people to hold a ceremony not recognized by your church on publicly accessible land is the same thing as condoning said ceremony. Similarly for providing photographic services. If God is everywhere (and homophobic), is locating the ceremony in a home instead of a church going to offend him less?

Also, if you think religions were never racist in the age of miscegenation laws, you need to brush up on your history. We all like to think that the groups we adhere to live by our ideal standards, and it is somewhat of a credit to you that you believe strongly enough on the subject to project it back on earlier Christians of all stripes. But without anti-discrimination laws, we'd have a lot more open racism, and a lot stronger reinforcement of the acceptability of racism for future generations. I think the majority on MetaFilter sees sexuality discrimination in the exact same light as racism, and your arguments make most of them picture you in a KKK hood.

Also, what is it about homosexuality that bothers Christians so damn much? Where are the stories about photographers afraid to photograph the weddings of divorced people (technically adulturers), people trying to keep up with the Joneses (covet neighbor's house, SUV, etc... ), people who work on Sunday, and people who refuse to invite their parents to the wedding? I mean, shrimp eating gets about as much treatment as homosexuality in the Bible, and you don't see well funded PACs trying to get shrimp banned in this country.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "Let's say for the sake of argument he himself was opposed to the Pill (maybe he was, I didn't bother to ask.) His refusal to prescribe in no way affected my ability to obtain what I wished to get. He did not stand in my way. I didn't have a cow about it. THERE WERE OTHER DOCS RIGHT THERE IN THE SAME OFFICE WHO COULD HELP."

What class of people was discriminated against when this happened?

FWIW, I think it's morally repulsive for a medical establishment to refuse to help someone on religious grounds, as in, it's against my religion to promote safe sex and contraceptives, though it may not be discriminatory. If it's not a sin to refuse people this sort of help, it sure should be, because many times it does equate to real problems for people who get that sort of "help." What if there were no other docs who could help you, and you lived in a very small town with the closest big town being hours away?

Ever tried to get a perfectly legal abortion in conservative parts of the country, in a small town, hours away from a city?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2008


Where is the sin in doing business with gay people? Where is the specific chapter and verse that proscribes against it?

Leviticus, Chapter 27
1: And the LORD spake unto Adam and Steve.
2: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man doth give alms to the gay, he shall be destined for eternal damnation.
3: And whosoever toucheth the hand of the gay in the exchange of goods and services, he shall rot in Hell.
4: Ye shall offer no exchange with the gay for it shall not be acceptable for you.
5: And ye shall never purchase or sell shrimp of the gay, for ye all shall rot in eternal damnation.
posted by ericb at 2:19 PM on June 20, 2008


In the real world a gay person could realize that it was unkind and unfair to expect someone to violate their religious beliefs when it was entirely UNNECESSARY in order to get photography.

In the real world a person who is gay/ black/female would realize it was unkind and unfair to expect people to treat them as a person. You're right. We should really be more tolerant of peoples' beliefs, even when they believe some people are less deserving of respect. If Gawd says so...

I so hate the tolerance for intolerance arguments.
posted by Pax at 2:22 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia so where in the Bible, cite chapter and verse please, does it state that taking photographs of a gay marriage is a sin? If you can't do that will you please STFU?

Furthermore, your "real world" example is BS. There are dozens, hundreds, of counterexamples where the religious thug did, in fact, do his best to prevent women from obtaining contraception.

In short: if your religion prohibits you from doing your job, get a new job or a new religion but don't come whining to me.
posted by sotonohito at 2:23 PM on June 20, 2008


No, really, what rights are you talking about?

The right not to sin.

And biblically, we are supposed to not sin even if law requires it.


The only way someone's "right not to sin" is being infringed upon is if it's a religious requirement for someone to be a photographer. If god commanded that people be photographers, you might have a point. But presented with a situation where a Christian photographer has a moral objection to photographing a gay wedding, the photographer can simply stop being a photographer. That way, he isn't sinning and he isn't breaking the law.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:25 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


And biblically, we are supposed to not sin even if law requires it. See the book of Daniel-where Nebuchadnezzar threw three Hebrews into a fiery furnace for not obeying the law that they bow to a very large golden statue.

So by analogy, a "Christian" wedding photographer should refuse to photograph a gay wedding, and suffer the legal penalties for doing so, just as those Hebrews did. I'm OK with that. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't try to talk Nebuchadnezzar out of throwing them into the furnace.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:26 PM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Christians are sure allergic to being marginalized and persecuted...

Some Christians -- evangelicals and others are so. Other denominations are ashamed that Christianity seems to be represented by the 'wing-nuts' in our current culture. For example, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists are accepting of all ... and really represent the true values, morals and ethics that Christ espoused.
posted by ericb at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia so where in the Bible, cite chapter and verse please, does it state that taking photographs of a gay marriage is a sin?

Making fallacious arguments like that doesn't really help the cause of equal rights. If I believe in a religion that condemns murder, it's not unreasonable for me to conclude that actions which indirectly facilitate a murder are also forbidden, even if they're not explicitly stated to be so. There are many good reasons mentioned in this thread why wedding photographers should not be allowed to discriminate against gay couples, but this is not one of them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:34 PM on June 20, 2008


For one thing, the Bible states that whatsoever is not of faith is of sin. I'm in the process of finding the passage as it is a bit more detailed than that.

But let me point out that I was mostly having a secular legal discussion here, albeit of religious matters. There is the legal standpoint, then there is the religious standpoint. I was finding it interesting to discuss the different viewpoints of how particular laws and rights affect people on two sides of an issue.
posted by konolia at 2:35 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia writes "For one thing, the Bible states that whatsoever is not of faith is of sin. I'm in the process of finding the passage as it is a bit more detailed than that. "

So, this means you can't do business with anyone who isn't Christian? Or anyone who sins? Aren't we all sinners in the eyes of the Lord?
posted by krinklyfig at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2008


DevilsAdvocate writes "There are many good reasons mentioned in this thread why wedding photographers should not be allowed to discriminate against gay couples, but this is not one of them."

But it's a hollow argument in its own right. You can't fall back on something like that when talking about discrimination laws, but when citing doctrine which doesn't even exist is problematic as a defense.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:40 PM on June 20, 2008


Where is the sin in doing business with gay people?

but it's not that simple. it's not about "doing business with gay people". it's about participating and facilitating an activity which the businessman feels is wrong. the businessman may have no qualms about purchasing staples from a gay grocer: the act of providing produce is not controversial in spiritual terms, and a devout person would not feel he was violating his principles in supporting that activity. however, he ought not be labeled a bigot when declining to participate in an activity which he feels is wrong.

in any event, the blogger in this instance isn't inquiring on a spiritual level - he's worried about his wallet.

He's just trolling, krinklyfig. My bad for taking the bait.

i gotta respect a guy who uses the term correctly. thank you for not referring to billy goats and bridges.
posted by quonsar at 2:41 PM on June 20, 2008


Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

Does this mean "Don't look down your nose at anyone, and don't make things hard for other people?" Isn't that the exact opposite of "Sorry, but we're going to make it harder for you to get wedding pictures on account of you being gay"?
posted by 23skidoo at 2:50 PM on June 20, 2008


konolia: If we lived in a world where only fundamentalist Christians knew the arcane art of photography I could understand the wish to force the issue. But that is not the case.

You do understand that these laws were created because of very comparable situation in which members of targeted minorities could not find public accommodation or employment due to widespread discriminatory practice?

IMNSHO independent contractors should be able to do whatever the heck they want. If someone wants to build their entire career around photographing the services of a specific religious group, go for it. I'll gladly get behind the idea that freelancers should have the right to pick their clients, jobs, and topics. This wailing "oh noooes anti-discrimination law is like forcing rabbis to eat ham!" ignores both the reality that anti-discrimination laws contain plenty of loopholes for freelancers and members of organized religious groups.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:55 PM on June 20, 2008


however, he ought not be labeled a bigot when declining to participate in an activity which he feels is wrong.

I'd argue that moral certititude and bigotry are not mutually exclusive.
posted by Weebot at 2:56 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought wedding photographers would be happy with some business coming their way - i'm quite surprised at this and would have thought a gay couple would have been easier to deal with - more creative and probably better looking than most straight couples as well : )
I cant see them skimping on costs or demanding all the raw files (just so we can print then for our guests - we'll send you some money) either.

So, if you're in the us and need someone to shoot your all leather wedding this fall give me a shout : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2008


How a homophobic idiot was suddenly changed.
posted by ericb at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


explosion writes "So when we say Church, now we mean for-profit, doctrine-spewing groups that wish to oppress people?"

Sometimes. Honestly it's tough to tell sometimes.

"Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is morally abhorrent

"sez you. many people find homosexual behavior morally abhorrent. just sayin...
"

These two aren't mutually exclusive. You can find gay marriage morally abhorrent while still finding discrimination on that basis morally abhorrent.

posted by Mitheral at 4:45 PM on June 20, 2008


New Jersey Rep. Rothman 'Gets There' on Marriage Equality
"This change in position is not because Rothman had a Jim McGreevey moment; Rothman had a Dick Cheney one. One of Rothman's stepdaughters is lesbian. As a former mayor of Englewood, Rothman performed many marriage ceremonies. In a phone interview Wednesday, he said the 'issue of gay marriage has been on my mind' ever since those days. Yet despite his two biological children often telling him that "of course, gay people should be able to be married," he still would respond, 'I'm not there yet.' What got him there was a new marriage, and with it, the addition of three stepchildren to his family. His evolution on same-sex marriage is not unusual. When someone knows an openly gay or lesbian person, his or her views on equality broaden. Rothman is embracing a brave, new lavender world because like any parent, he wants his children to live happy, productive lives. 'Life can be short and hurtful for some,' he said. 'Anytime anyone in the community speaks out against discrimination, it advances the cause of ending discrimination.'"
posted by ericb at 4:45 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


[a few comments removed - if you're not starting the same old argument then this should be no problem]
posted by jessamyn at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2008


quonsar writes "but it's not that simple. it's not about "doing business with gay people". it's about participating and facilitating an activity which the businessman feels is wrong. the businessman may have no qualms about purchasing staples from a gay grocer: the act of providing produce is not controversial in spiritual terms, and a devout person would not feel he was violating his principles in supporting that activity. however, he ought not be labeled a bigot when declining to participate in an activity which he feels is wrong."

Like, say, allowing a Native American couple to get a motel room for the night at the motel you own? How about an interracial couple? How about a gay couple? Or how about an unmarried couple?

Taking pictures of a wedding ceremony is no more participating nor condoning in the activity than the caterer is doing. I know lots of caterers. If they only took on people who agreed with their religious or political views, they'd be doing pretty poorly on top of breaking the law in many cases, so it seems like a stupid business decision.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:17 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


for the record, if I were a photographer, I'd probably photograph the wedding in question, but there are some people who would truly feel that they were abetting something that God absolutely hated by doing that. Should they have to choose between pissing off God and pissing off a potential client?

No. They should have to choose between abiding by the law, or finding themselves another job where their hateful religious delusions do not come into conflict with the law.

I don't recall Christ being an intolerant asshat. It'd sure be nice if the religious bigots were to read the red-letter parts of their bibles.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:25 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks Ericb for the excellent examples of epiphanies that we can only hope people like Konolia will experience. I personally had a similar AHA! moment in my early teens about homosexuality after learning that the animal kingdom is not uniformly heterosexual. The realization that 'unnatural' was a poor descriptor for the behavior led me to re-examine my beliefs from the ground up on that and other subjects. I'm very thankful for that, as I had a very zealous, black and white view of morality before that.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2008


[seriously, STOP - anyone who purports to speak for god needs to speak to/for/with him in metatalk, not here]
posted by jessamyn at 5:39 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Said 23skidoo:

No one is being forced to do anything against their religion. Any religious photographer who has a moral objection to photographing gay weddings can keep being religious if they give up being a photographer.

That doesn't sound like freedom of conscience to me. If I believe that, for moral reasons, I should not take pictures of something, no law should be able to compel me to do it for any reason.

Something tells me if there was a photographer that only did Catholic weddings, or didn't do Catholic weddings, or whatever, nobody would care.

(As I said above, I have no moral objection to photographing gay weddings or commitment ceremonies. I just think I should have a right to say what I will and won't photograph.)
posted by bugmuncher at 7:27 PM on June 20, 2008


Not to keep picking on 23skidoo, but:
What "right" does that take away from people? The "right" to be a photographer? That's not a right. The "right" to illegally discriminate against people? That's not a right. Just because you want to do something doesn't mean you're legally entitled to do it.

Perhaps you are unaware of your rights.

Photography is my right. It is part of the right to publish whatever I want, as long as I am responsible for the abuse of that right (libel, porn, etc). This right is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Section 8 of the New York State Constitution. It is probably also in the Colorado Constitution.

I do not see this the same way as making widgets/burgers/cars/houses and deciding who can buy them. A person should be free to publish (that is, create original works of ) whatever they want to, and free not to publish (or create original works of) what they do not what to.
posted by bugmuncher at 7:37 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


You are asking that photographer to eat photograph a metaphorical ham sandwich.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 PM on June 20, 2008


It should still be my right not to photograph a ham sandwich, whether it were metaphorical or literal.

Photography is art. It is not a commodity.
posted by bugmuncher at 8:15 PM on June 20, 2008


Wedding photography is not art. It is a service.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:18 PM on June 20, 2008


How is wedding photography not art?

If I photograph your wedding, each of the photos I create will be a separate work of art. Just because the trend is to offer hundreds of photographs does not make each of the individual photographs a separate and distinct work. And just because photography can be commissioned, as can poetry and musical composition, doesn't mean it's some kind of commodity service.

If Maya Angelou doesn't want to write a poem for me, it should be her right to refuse. Just as it should be my right not to photograph what I don't want to, regardless of whether you offered me any money for it.

(I would probably have a blast at a gay wedding, though.)
posted by bugmuncher at 8:31 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't agree with the reason why they declined, as well as the way it was stated, but why in the name of all that is holy (insert your creed here) has the right to service from a private corporation become an essential human right?

Um, since the civil rights movement in the 1960s, which ended discrimination against blacks in this country, much of which was based on private service refusal?

Where next? The American National Shirtless Association suing restaurants? The International Brotherhood of Irrational and Violent Drunks suing bars?

When going shirtless and being a drunk become a state or federal protected class. What you can and cant discriminate based on is defined by law. Seriously, do you know anything about this country or it's history?
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


How is wedding photography not art?

If you'd ever had to deal with the demands of a bride--or worse, her mother--you'd understand that wedding photography is a painful paycheck, if that, and absolutely nothing more. Sure, there's "artsy" wedding photography, but... Yeah, no. Sorry. It ain't gonna be in any gallery any time soon.

The Maya Angelous of photography aren't in the wedding album business.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:52 PM on June 20, 2008


why in the name of all that is holy (insert your creed here) has the right to service from a private corporation become an essential human right?

Welcome to the Olive Garden. Err, I'm sorry we don't serve butt-fuckers at our restaurants.

Welcome. Trust the Midas Touch. Oh, what? I'm sorry we don't fix "gay" mufflers.

Welcome to H&R Block. You're what? Gay? I'm very sorry we don't provide tax consultancy to faggots.

Thank you for your inquiry regarding our wedding photography services. Oh, you're a lesbian couple. I'm sorry, we don't photograph gay/lesbian weddings. Only straights need apply -- but, no Irish.
posted by ericb at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't agree with the reason why they declined, as well as the way it was stated, but why in the name of all that is holy (insert your creed here) has the right to service from a private corporation become an essential human right?

Welcome, Ms. Konolia (and your daughter, her African American husband and their mixed-race child) to the Olive Garden. Err, I'm sorry we don't serve mulattos, or their parents; their grandparents at our restaurants.

Welcome, Ms. Konolia. Trust the Midas Touch. Oh, what? I'm sorry we don't fix "mixed-race" mufflers.

Welcome to H&R Block, Ms. Konolia. Your grandchild is what? Mulatto? I'm very sorry we don't provide tax consultancy to grandparents of 'multiracial peoples.'

Thank you, Ms. Konolia, for your inquiry regarding our wedding photography services. Oh, your daughter and her fiancé are a mixed-race couple? I'm sorry, we don't photograph negroes who marry whites. Only "pure white" couples need apply.
posted by ericb at 9:31 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


That doesn't sound like freedom of conscience to me. If I believe that, for moral reasons, I should not ... no law should be able to compel me to do it for any reason.

So how about freedom of conscience regarding ambulance drivers? Apparently there are a few who are refusing to drive women who are in need of medical abortion that are refusing to drive them to the hospital, thus endangering their lives.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 PM on June 20, 2008


If I believe that, for moral reasons, I should not take pictures of something, no law should be able to compel me to do it for any reason.

So those who, for moral reasons, believed that they should not have served blacks, should not have been compelled to?

Photography is art. It is not a commodity

In the abstract, yes. Wedding photography (and other work-for-hire) is indeed a commodity, sorry. It may have artistic merit, but it is a commodity.

Thank you, Ms. Konolia, for your inquiry regarding our wedding photography services. Oh, your daughter and her fiancé are a mixed-race couple? I'm sorry, we don't photograph negroes who marry whites. Only "pure white" couples need apply.

We keep trying. And we're fighting the good fight. But she will never get it, until one of her kids or grandkids comes out. Which, of course, they won't, having been brought up in a frighteningly bigoted household.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:16 PM on June 20, 2008


Oh, come. They were brought up in a household that made it pretty damn clear pre-marital sex will send you to hell, and yet she's got a child that's an unmarried teenaged mother. There's every likelihood that someone she's close to will come out as flamingly gay, and she'll suddenly find it within herself to practice that reputed Christian Goodness.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:51 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Point of order-she's been married almost two years now and is old enough to drink adult beverages.)
posted by konolia at 11:01 PM on June 20, 2008


Hey, I just realized we need a new derogatory term for married people. We can't well call them breeders if they're both men.


Simple. Just call them mouth breeders.

only 200 posts late.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:31 PM on June 20, 2008


c/she's got a child that's an unmarried teenage mother/she's got a child who was an unmarried teenage mother/

And as an aside, I think it's beyond ridiculous that most of the US has laws where it's legal to get married and pop out teh babies, get conscripted, vote, and be tried as an adult in a court of law, all as a teenager... but aren't allowed to drink the demon rum until you're 21. WTF is with that?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:01 AM on June 21, 2008


Are you actually going to answer any questions, konolia, or are you going to pull your usual act? One or the other, just say which.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:18 AM on June 21, 2008


Won't somebody please think of the terrorists photographers?
posted by bwg at 3:18 AM on June 21, 2008


Driving an ambulance is not speech or publication. The ambulance driver provides a service which has nothing to do with either. He or she should shut up and drive.

There is nothing different, constitutionally speaking, between a photographer that does weddings and a newspaper that is owned by a Fortune 500 conglomerate, like the one that employs me. Both are publishers. Subjective distinctions like whether one is more artsy than the other have no bearing on the fact that both publish works.

Artists and publishers should be able to decide what not to put into their bodies of work. Without this right, there is no right to a free press.
posted by bugmuncher at 1:45 PM on June 21, 2008


Artists and publishers should be able to decide what not to put into their bodies of work. Without this right, there is no right to a free press.

Yes, but businesses may not discriminate in employment or provision of services. A wedding photographer is a business, and therefore may not discriminate. The photographer may choose not to display certain images in their portfolio, but they may not discriminate in who they deal with. It is no different than a newspaper, true--newspapers may not discriminate against people in terms of employment or selling the product. Nor may any other business.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:12 PM on June 21, 2008


If you take the 'artist' out of the equation, does it make a difference? What if we're talking about a chair rental place?
posted by jacquilynne at 3:12 PM on June 21, 2008


Are you actually going to answer any questions, konolia, or are you going to pull your usual act? One or the other, just say which.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:18 AM on June 21 [+] [!]


I got a couple of posts deleted by Jessamyn so I decided I didn't want this thread to cost me five bucks. You can memail me if you want.
posted by konolia at 5:54 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dirtynumbangelglow writes:

Yes, but businesses may not discriminate in employment or provision of services. A wedding photographer is a business, and therefore may not discriminate.

Sure, the photographer is a business, but so are poets, musicians, cartoonists, stage actors, screen actors, and porn actors. Are you going to say to them that they can't decide what themes they won't explore in their poetry, their songs, their cartoons, their acting gigs? Because they have done it for money, they don't get this right anymore?

newspapers may not discriminate against people in terms of employment

They can, but that's a tangent for another time. :-)

jacquilyn writes:
If you take the 'artist' out of the equation, does it make a difference? What if we're talking about a chair rental place?

Yes, chair rental is different because renting a chair is simple commerce. There is no speech or expression or publication involved in renting a chair, or making a burger, or repairing pipes. (as expressive as chefs and plumbers, can be, it would be hard to sell a court on a burger or a valve as speech. The patents and trademarks may be easier, because they are intellectual property...)

The U.S. has a long precedent of recognizing photography as a publication: you can register individual photographs with the copyright office, which you couldn't do if it were not a separate and distinct work of art. Or you can just copyright it without registering. That's legal, too. Because it is expression, speech, publication, or whatever you choose to call it, it is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Consitution.
posted by bugmuncher at 9:41 PM on June 21, 2008


That doesn't seem to be the objection the original photographer is making, though -- he doesn't object to shooting gay weddings on artistic grounds. He objects for commercial reasons -- that he might not make as much money if his bigoted straight clients find out he's willing to work gay marriages, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:06 PM on June 21, 2008


Are you going to say to them that they can't decide what themes they won't explore in their poetry, their songs, their cartoons, their acting gigs? Because they have done it for money, they don't get this right anymore?

You don't seem to understand. If I hire a wedding photographer, it is no different than hiring someone to change the tires on my car; I am paying them for a specific service, and they may not discriminate.

If someone is taking pictures to follow their artistic vision, and later sell them, that is a different kettle of fish, and of course they can follow whatever they want. Discrimination in this case is impossible, because they have not been hired to perform a service.

newspapers may not discriminate against people in terms of employment

They can, but that's a tangent for another time.


Uh, not where anti-discrimination legislation is in effect, they can't.

Because it is expression, speech, publication, or whatever you choose to call it, it is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Consitution.

*sigh* No. See above.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:56 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry folks, but demands for Konolia to quote chapter and verse to defend her religious position are entirely off base. To make this argument is to suggest that we are legally allowed to sit in judgement of another's religious position. That is clearly not the case. Such calls take the discussion no where.

Nor does Konolia do herself any legitimate good by quoting Daniel, from the OLD testament, as if Christians were all bound by the customs and laws of the Jewish faith. It is a common bit of nonsense, and always selective about which laws they like to wave about.

Now I've not worried myself about such things in decades, but, I was taught that Christians are directed to follow the laws of the land in which they live (this was used all the time, in the 60's and 70's, to justify the idea that smoking pot was "unchristian"). So, if you're a Christian wedding photographer, you have to accept contracts without discrimination according to law. If this interferes with your notions of Devine Law, sorry, you have to pay the fine and/or get out of the photography business. The courts do not have the right to judge your religion. They do have the right to judge your conduct under the law.

What bothers me the most about this whole Christian vs. Gay argument is all these Christians running around being so blind to not see how this is really a political issue, and they are being used as a means to fan the flames of very unChristian hatred, or worse, that their own hearts have become inflamed with this hatred. Christians, if Jesus is in your heart, how is there room for all the hate?

How dare Christians make the claim to be saved by Grace, and turn around and use Jewish Law as a basis for spreading hatred. Your claim to Grace may well be cancelled by such actions.
posted by Goofyy at 3:48 AM on June 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


Commercial art is a service. Non-commercial art is not a service. All working commercial artists know that commercial art = cavacade o' aesthetic compromises.

Now, you can use your aesthetic sense to decide that your ideal commercial artform is water droplets on the silverware at weddings if you discover that there is a market for that service large enough to support your business, but you can't say that you won't photograph the water droplets on the silverware at a biracial wedding.

You can tell them that it's because you think their silverware doesn't have the reflective qualities necessary, and you might get away with that, but if they don't believe you they can sue you. And if it turns out that you photographed a white couple's wedding where the same silverware was featured, you will be caught out violating anti-discrimination law. You can always tell biracial couples that you're booked solid, and if they can prove that you told something different to a walk-in white couple, they might sue you, and if a pattern can be shown, you will be found in violation of anti-discrimination law. This isn't complicated, and has nothing to do with art. The question is only whether it can be proved that you are refusing service to biracial couples because they are a biracial couple. The blogger makes it crystal clear that his rejection would be on the basis of the couple being gay: he could make this rejection over the phone. His visual aesthetic never comes into play, for what that's worth.

Your artistic rights are not being violated by anti-discrimination law. If having the legal constraints of being a service provider are a problem, you can be a noncommercial artist, asking engaged people if you can come to their wedding to take photographs for your photo series, get model clearances from everyone there, and do a gallery show if you merit one. You are your client in that case, so if your client keeps telling you to photograph white people, that's his business. Art photography gets sold for money and some people live off of it. If you can't, and you still don't want to be a service provider, you have a third option as an indie stock photographer (you can't be a stock photographer who works on assignment because your boss might assign you to photograph a biracial couple, and since you can't do that in accordance with your aesthetics, no dice).

But if you hang out a shingle that says "wedding photographer", you are the provider of a service called wedding photography, and if someone can make a legal case that you refused service on the basis of race, it's going to be costly.

A different example: you can run a butcher shop that offers a very particular kind of meat: meat prepared in accordance with old testament law. If there are enough people around who want this product, you will have a successful butcher shop. But you can't refuse to serve a pastrami on rye to a black man. Even if some sect of your religion somewhere clearly stated that you must not give delicious kosher food to black people. That is simply the point at which religious freedom and the law of the land intersect, and, to the relief of adulterers who don't wish to be stoned to death everywhere, the law of the land -- specifically the human rights of people who haven't chosen to subscribe to your religion -- trumps religious law, unless a case can be made that no harm is done to others (see: peyote as religious sacrament). If this is impossible to live with, the pastrami on rye is just going to have to become a sacrament of the faith which is handed out in the place of worship for free: you don't get to use the advantage of the public market (the money available in a huge client pool) without following the laws of the land.

A real Christian with the courage of her convictions would have no problem sacrificing Mammon for The Lord, and a real Christian church would have no problem supporting that child of God in their decision by making them the church photographer and thus insulating them from the vagaries of the market. But there is no valid objection to not being able to practice a hateful religious opinion in the agora, even though it is, or may shortly be, illegal. What's more, it sounds pretty money-hungry to insist on the income which can only be found in the public market, but with special conditions which just a few people get to define, which the secular realm has declared harmful to its health as a society.

It's almost like you can't always skate through life doing whatever benefits you most, but sometimes you have to choose a position based on what your conscience tells you and potentially suffer some consequences. And this, after you were promised up and down that life would be easy.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:03 AM on June 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


n.b.: I don't actually consider gay-hating real Christianity, since the New Testament is ambiguous about homosexuality as such, and it's mortifyingly obvious that hatred against gays is not something that Jesus would have liked to see promoted by his followers. I'm talking about the exquisite clarity to be found in Matthew 6:24.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:52 AM on June 22, 2008


This is all pretty easy, actually.

So, should a California photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a KKK White Power wedding, complete with swastika cake?

No.

Should a vegetarian photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a wedding reception where pate de fois gras is served?

No.

Should anyone be forced to violate his or her deeply held religious beliefs simply to remain in business, particularly when there are others more than willing to serve the clients in question?

Yes. All businesses should be required to accept the custom of anyone willing to pay, with, I suppose, exceptions for dress codes or behavior disturbing to other clients present (ie, screaming babies).

That's what open for business means.

for the record, if I were a photographer, I'd probably photograph the wedding in question, but there are some people who would truly feel that they were abetting something that God absolutely hated by doing that. Should they have to choose between pissing off God and pissing off a potential client?

Yes.

But then you seem to be saying that discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs is not only all right, but required.

There's no discrimination here. These requirements state that any business owner has to serve anyone. Any atheist owner has to serve anyone. Any Catholic owner has to serve anyone.

Okay, let's say you are a Sikh. Who is required to wear a turban as a condition of his faith. Does Disney have the right to not hire him because he doesn't have the "disney look?" Obviously he CHOSE to wear that turban, and can take it off. He wasn't born with it attached.

Yes, if they have a dress code that forbids hats.

Because to a particular business owner who thinks that to photograph that wedding is to condone it, and that to do such would be a sin against God, it would be a MORAL EQUIVALENT.

In that case, the business owner is simply incorrect. Photographing something does not condone it. His weird, incorrect beliefs to the contrary shouldn't carry any weight.

Years ago when I was young I had an ob-gyn who was awesome. He worked for a Catholic hospital and as such was not permitted to prescribe oral contraceptives.

If he's not willing to prescribe medically appropriate treatment for his patients, he should lose his license.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:47 AM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or, more to the point, would you like to see to it that a religious person could never own a legal business without violating his or her conscience?

I know, it would be really awful if Christians had to consort with all sorts of unsavory people who did SINS with their WING-WANGS. If only they had an example of someone who made a point of consorting with all sorts of unsavory people...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:47 AM on June 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


...she also found time to mention that she isn't allowed to make religious comments in this thread anymore, so I apologize for the bad form in referencing the Bible when she can't.

I don't know what request was made of her, but she does not need to quote the Bible in order to engage in civil discussion and debate here. She can "use her own words."

I have a question for konolia. We'll see if she answers it "in her own words."
In 1967 the Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore unconstitutional, thus stricking down laws that forbid interracial marriages. Prior to that time not only were laws used to justify discrimination against such interracial couples, but also were the frequent citations of Biblical verse by conservative Christians (much like they do today to justify their bigotry against same-sex couples).

konolia, you have a white daughter and an African-American son-in-law who also have a mixed-race child (which I believe was conceived out-of-wedlock). As a mother and a Christian, would it have been justified for them being treated "differently" in society (e.g. refused service, be ostracized in segments of our society, be subjected to potential slurs, taunts and possible violence), if they had had their child and been married back in 1963. If so, how do you "square" such with yourself? If not, why ... and, how should your grandchild be treated -- by you, a grandparent and by society-at-large in 20 years when he or she "comes out" to you and announces he/she is marrying his/her same-sex partner?
No need for discussion of religion per se. No need for Biblical citations. Simply what do you think; how would you feel, if the two scenarios were true?
posted by ericb at 8:28 AM on June 22, 2008


So, should a California photographer have the right to refuse to photograph a KKK White Power wedding, complete with swastika cake?

No.


Um, actually, yes. The KKK is not a group that is protected from discrimination. Being open for business doesn't mean you have to take everyone who walks through the door, it means that when you refuse to serve someone it must be for reasons that are not forbidden under the law.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:14 AM on June 22, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy writes:

You don't seem to understand. If I hire a wedding photographer, it is no different than hiring someone to change the tires on my car; I am paying them for a specific service, and they may not discriminate.

If someone is taking pictures to follow their artistic vision, and later sell them, that is a different kettle of fish, and of course they can follow whatever they want. Discrimination in this case is impossible, because they have not been hired to perform a service.


I guess we don't understand each other. You believe that commercial speech is somehow different than individual speech. I don't, and never will.

You and I would probably agree that once a creative professional has entered into a contract, it should be illegal to get out of the contract for a bullshit discriminatory reason, like finding out the couple is gay.

But I (and every creative professional I have approached about this, even the ones in my town who weekly protest bigotry on the opposite street corner of gay marriage opponents) believe that creative professionals should retain the absolute right of deciding which contracts they will and won't enter.

BTW, wedding photography is nowhere nearly as specific as auto work. All the parts have to fit; the tires ought to be a certain pressure, etc, and the end result will be essentially the same if you had ten different mechanics do the job. And in the end, no works are created.

If you hired ten different photographers and had them shoot the same wedding (somehow in ten different space-time dimensions so they wouldn't bump into each other) they'd probably differ in the number of shots they offer in the proof book; which perspectives they explored; whether they befriended the officiant and got permission to use strobes and/or remote cameras; whether they offer photos of people looking at the camera; whether they crop and tone photos individually; whether they know the color temperature of the ambient light, and told their digital camera to compensate; whether they shot film or digital; whether they know the rule of thirds, etc. Each photographer would have created individual works of art that are distinct from the other.

On newspaper discrimination and hiring, dirtynumbangelboy writes:
Uh, not where anti-discrimination legislation is in effect, they can't.

Discrimination is OK, as long as it is not on a basis that is illegal. If the paper didn't want to hire me because one of my parents is an immigrant, that's unfair and illegal. But if the paper doesn't want to hire me as a photographer because I can't pass a simple English writing test, and it's not worth their time for editors to rewrite my captions, they should have the right not to hire me. They're discriminating against me, but on the basis of merit, which is still legal.

If I become a wedding photographer, I will discriminate against any couple that won't pay my standard rate by refusing to enter contracts with them. That is also legal, as is having a standard rate that is above average for the region, which I would also plan to do.
posted by bugmuncher at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2008


NPR: When Gay Rights and Religious Liberties Clash.
posted by ericb at 10:39 AM on June 22, 2008


Your Time Machine Sucks writes:

Commercial art is a service. Non-commercial art is not a service. All working commercial artists know that commercial art = cavacade o' aesthetic compromises.

But both are personal expression...

Now, you can use your aesthetic sense to decide that your ideal commercial artform is water droplets on the silverware at weddings if you discover that there is a market for that service large enough to support your business, but you can't say that you won't photograph the water droplets on the silverware at a biracial wedding.

Forget "artsy" for a second and focus on "art." Each photograph, whether taken by a "pro" or by an amateur is considered a "work" (of art) under the law and becomes protected by copyright in the U.S. at the moment it is created, whether the creator is aware of it or not. Even if it is not in focus, poorly composed, and shows a lack of understanding of both the subject matter and photography in general. It's still a "work" based on it being the tangible expression of an idea. U.S. copyright law makes that pretty clear.

If I want to restrict myself from expressing ideas that I disagree with, no matter what they are, I should have that right.

But if you hang out a shingle that says "wedding photographer", you are the provider of a service called wedding photography, and if someone can make a legal case that you refused service on the basis of race, it's going to be costly.

I am opposed to discriminating against clients on the basis of sexual orientation, or race, but I would think that discrimination about the subject matter that I will offer in my photos should be my right. e.g., no gratuitous food spread shots, no people looking at my camera, no people in front of windows when the sun is up and flash is not allowed. Those would be my rules. If someone else wants to say they won't offer a photo of two women kissing at a wedding, because they fundamentally disagree with the idea of homosexual unions of any sort, they ought to have that freedom. That would not be discrimination on the basis of who wants to hire you; it would be discrimination on the basis of the ideas that the photographer would be required to express as part of the contract.

I would be surprised if you found serious creative professionals that, after rejecting a contract on the basis of the subject requested because they disagreed with the idea they would be asked to express, the government should be able to compel them to express that idea because the potential client felt aggrieved or victimized.

In crass terms: just because we are whoring ourselves doesn't mean we give up the right to decide which clients we won't sleep with.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:43 AM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interesting legal question as to whether wedding photography would be a public accomodation, though.

In the Elane Photography case the New Mexico Human Rights Commission "...found that Elane Photography, as a commercial business, provided a public accomodation and could not, under law, discriminate based on sexual orientation."*
posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on June 22, 2008


Here's the Decision and Final Order [PDF] in Vanessa Willock vs. Elane Photography.

Here's the original inquiry and resulting e-mail exchange between the parties:
Vanessa Willock sent to Elane Photography the following e-mail on September 21, 2006, a year in advance of her ceremony:
We are researching potential photographers for our commitment ceremony on September 15, 2007 in Taos, NM.

This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we’d like to receive pricing information.

Thanks.
Elaine Huguenin responded:
Hello Vanessa,
As a company, we photograph traditional weddings, engagements, seniors, and several other things such as political photographs and singer’s portfolios.
-Elaine-
Willock wrote again:
Hi Elaine,
Thanks for your response below of September 21, 2006. I’m a bit confused, however, by the wording of your response. Are you saying that your company does not offer your photography services to same-sex couples?
Thanks,
Vanessa
Huguenin in conclusion:
Hello Vanessa,
Sorry if our last response was a confusing one. Yes, you are correct in saying we do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our site!

Have a great day.
-Elaine
posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on June 22, 2008


Um, actually, yes. The KKK is not a group that is protected from discrimination.

A photographer has the right to refuse to photograph a KKK white power wedding.

They just shouldn't have that right.

Being open for business doesn't mean you have to take everyone who walks through the door

...but it should.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:01 AM on June 22, 2008


Elane Photography registered and operates as a business which the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found to be a "public accomodation."

A commentor elsewhere says it well:
"If Elane wanted to maintain her ability to refuse service to individuals based upon her personal prejudices she should not have registered herself legally as a public business; instead, she should operate as a single invidiual who works as a independent contractor unassociated with any legal business entity. She was not working as a freelancer but as a vender [who] provides a service."
posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on June 22, 2008


I guess we don't understand each other. You believe that commercial speech is somehow different than individual speech. I don't, and never will.

W.T.F.?!?

You are saying, then, that businesses should have the commercial speech right to deny service to blacks.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:26 AM on June 22, 2008


Claim of Public Accomodation Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
3. Ms. Willock brought a claim of public accomodation discrimination based on sexual orientation against Elane Photography, LLC, alleging that Elane Photography refused to offer its photographic services to her because of her sexual orientation, in violation of Section 28-1-7(F) of the NMHRA.

4. Section 28-1-7(F) of the NMHRA provides, in applicable parts, that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for: "any person in any public accomodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services, facilities, accomodations or goods to any person because of ... sexual orientation ..." NMSA 1978, § 28-1-7(F).

5. Section 28-1-2(P) of the NMHRA defines "sexual orientation" to mean: "heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, whether actual or perceived..." NMSA 1978 § 28-1-2(P).

6. Section 28-1-2(H) of the NMHRA defines "public accomodation" to mean: "any establishment that provides or offers its services, facilities, accomodations or goods to the public, but does not include a bona fide private club or other place or establishment that by its nature and use distinctly private..." NMSA 1978 § 28-1-2(H).

7. A similar prohibition against the discrimination of members of protected classes in public accomodations is contained in Title II of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a (1994 ed.) Section 2000a (a) provides the following: "All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accomodations of any place of public accomodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(a).

8. Federal adjudication may be relied on for guidance in analyzing a claim brought under the NMHRA. See Oceana v. American Furniture Co., 2004-NMSC-018, §23, 135 N.M. 539, 91 P.3d
The finding goes on to state that Ms. Willock established a prima facie case of discrimination with both direct and indirect proof.
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on June 22, 2008


I thing bugmuncher is asking smart questions that reflect a forward-thinking, nuanced view of how politics work over a long-period of time.

So, if my employer is approached by the state lottery, which I find morally repugnant, with a contract offer, can my employer force me to work with them? I'm not religiously opposed — because I'm not religious — but I'm morally opposed. My boss, an LDS member, was religiously prohibited.

Let's say that my employer is cool (it is) and says, "you certainly do not have to work with this client if you find them morally repugnant." What if no one on staff wanted to work with the lottery? Is my employer somehow forced to accommodate that client?

Are other businesses "public accommodation"? Selling porn, liquor, cigarettes? What about t-shirts that have funny, progressive sayings on them? What about t-shirts that have funny, religious sayings on them? Does my business have to help their business if no one on staff will?

What if I own a restaurant, and a Southern Baptist church wants to rent a section of the restaurant for a fund-raiser for the church. But before a contract is signed, when we schedule it, my staff refuse to work it (insert sexism and "thou shalt obey thy husband" issues here — hey, it's Portland and totally possible) . Can I tell the church no? Do I have to compel those employees to work? Do I have to fire them or punish them if they don't? How far do I, as a business, have to go to make this fundraiser happen because called me?

To that degree, if I own a studio and none of my photographers would be willing to shoot a gay wedding due to their own moral code (right or wrong, and I would argue wrong), can the business be compelled by the state to compel an employee to shoot the wedding?

Because that's where I see this headed — today you win the right to force a business to shoot a gay wedding, but you lose the right to turn down an ultra-religious subservient wife wedding tomorrow. You have to be careful when you compel people do do things and why you compel them because it could have unforeseen consequences down the road.
posted by thomsplace at 12:07 PM on June 22, 2008


This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we’d like to receive pricing information.

I know that the law is the law regardless of how someone chooses to write their emails, but this really seems misleading to me. Why mention that you are a same-gender couple and say that you'd like pricing IF they are open to it? It really makes it sound like the couple understands that not everyone is open to shooting a same-gender ceremony, and that they are specifically looking for a photographer who has no problem with it. If they really thought that it wouldn't be an issue, I don't think they would have mentioned that they were a same-gender couple. If they weren't going to be cool with someone saying "No, we don't want to do that", then they shouldn't have said "If you are open to helping us".

To me, it reads like someone got pissed because the photographer implied that a lesbian wedding is not a traditional wedding.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:24 PM on June 22, 2008


... but you lose the right to turn down an ultra-religious subservient wife wedding tomorrow.

Religion is also already a protected class
Age (40 and over) - Federal: Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

Color - Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964

Disability status - Federal: Vocational Rehabilitation and Other Rehabilitation Services of 1973 & Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Ethnicity

Familial status (Housing, cannot discriminate for having children, exception for senior housing)

Genetic Information - Federal: Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

National origin - Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964

Political affiliation Race - Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964

Religion or sect - Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964

Sex - Federal: Equal Pay Act of 1963 & Civil Rights Act of 1964

Sexual orientation (in some jurisdictions and not in others)

Veteran status - Federal Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974
So, if your business was found to be a "public accomodation" and a plaintiff was able to prove direct and/or indirect discrimination based on his/her protected status, then, yes, you'd be found to have violated the law.
posted by ericb at 12:26 PM on June 22, 2008


If they really thought that it wouldn't be an issue, I don't think they would have mentioned that they were a same-gender couple.

There's more to the case than just the initial e-mail exchange. The Decision and Final Order [PDF] references other communication including that by Willock's partner -- Ms. Collingworth with Elane Photography.

BTW -- the plaintiff (Willock) brought the claim against Elane Photography for the purpose of preventing any future unlawful discriminatory practice and only sought an award for payment of her legal fees ($6,637.94). She made it clear "that she was not seeking a monetary award for actual damages, and when given a specific opportunity at the hearing to offer proof in support of a monetary award for actual damages, she declined to do so." [page 9 of NMHRC Decision and Final Order).
posted by ericb at 12:37 PM on June 22, 2008


I suspect that Elane Photography's appeal will seek to prove that freedom of expression, freedom of association and/or freedom of religion trumps this current ruling. As well, they'll likely try to argue that Elane Photography is not a "public accomodation."
posted by ericb at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2008


thomsplace:

The state isn't forcing businesses to serve anyone they don't want to; it's penalizing businesses for not doing so. There is a significant difference: If you don't want to serve a particular clientèle, you still have the option of serving no one.

(See ericb's comment for an important distinction re: "business" vs. "some guy with a camera")

It's like this: If your employer asks you to do something within your job description, but you refuse because you find it "morally repugnant," the employer is well within his rights to fire you--not to force you to do it, but to fire you if you don't. And, really, if you find some aspect of your job description morally repugnant, you shouldn't have signed on in the first place.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


You have to be careful when you compel people do do things and why you compel them because it could have unforeseen consequences down the road.

Yes.

Rural pharmacists, for instance, may be forced to actually fulfill doctor's prescriptions.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:55 PM on June 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


There is a significant difference: If you don't want to serve a particular clientèle, you still have the option of serving no one.

While not in the private sphere, such brings to mind the three California counties (Kern, Calaveras, and Butte County) which have completely stopped performing civil weddings (straight or gay) because of the State Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages.

In related news: San Diego County Clerk Reassigns Workers Who Object to Gay Marriage.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on June 22, 2008


I don't know what request was made of her, but she does not need to quote the Bible in order to engage in civil discussion and debate here. She can "use her own words."


which I was till asked to stop.
posted by konolia at 1:52 PM on June 22, 2008


Rather than start a metatalk post which would not wendell, let me state one more time that as much as I would like to stay and continue to have a civil discussion here it is not worth me risking my username over. I'll happily discuss anything either privately or on another site of someone's choosing but it cannot be here.
posted by konolia at 1:55 PM on June 22, 2008


BTW -- Kern, Calaveras, and Butte counties are issuing marriage licenses to straight and gay couple, as required by law.
"County clerks are required by law to issue marriage licenses, but the offices do not have to perform wedding ceremonies."*
posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on June 22, 2008


Thanks for the link, ericb.

One paragraph from the Claim of Public Accomodation Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation finding that I find most interesting is paragraph 27:

To the extent that Elane Photography's arguments in this proceeding sought to raise questions as to the constitutionality of the NMHRA or questions as to an automatic preemption of of the NMHRA by the United States Constitution, the New Mexico Constitution or the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act, those questions are not before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission for determination in this proceeding, and, accordingly, are not addressed here. (emphasis added)

Meaning that the NMHRC didn't consider whether the freedom of expression includes the freedom not to express an idea, which has been my argument all along.
posted by bugmuncher at 2:00 PM on June 22, 2008


Mods, could we have confirmation that konolia is disallowed from participating in this thread? I find it somewhat doubtful that your intention is that she be unable to participate in a discussion about freedom of speech.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:02 PM on June 22, 2008


Five Fresh Fish writes:

W.T.F.?!?

You are saying, then, that businesses should have the commercial speech right to deny service to blacks.


What is a "commercial speech right?" There is no such thing under the United States Constitution.

It's not the color of the skin or the sexual orientation of the person that was denied service that matters to me, and to the law. It is rather, the reason for the denial. If it is because of the basis of that person's skin color, or their sexual orientation, then it is wrong and rather arbitary, and possibly illegal.

If it is because the person, regardless of their skin color or sexual orientation, wanted me to create art that expresses an idea with which I disagree, I still believe that my right to expression includes a right not to express those ideas with which I disagree. Particularly telling is that the NMHRC points out that that question is not something it can address. (Meaning, a judge can address it later.)

The right of expression has nothing to do with things like changing tires, renting chairs, making sandwiches, and whatnot. No intellectual properties are created through these industries. There is no expression involved. There is no idea communicated in tangible form.
posted by bugmuncher at 2:13 PM on June 22, 2008


konolia -- I posed straight-forward (hehe) questions (albeit hypothetical) above. Surely you can answer them here in thread.

(1) How would you have felt if your daughter and her African-American boyfriend had sought to get married in 1963 in face of legal (in some states) and religious prohibitions, as stated by Biblical literalists? What about those who viewed their child as being the product of an unholy union -- out-of-wedlock and of mixed-race?

(2) How do you think will you feel and what will you do if that grandchild "comes out" to you in 20 years and states that he/she will be marrying his/her same-sex partner?

I know that you believe that "race" is inherent and that "homosexuality" is a choice (as per your recent e-mail message to me). Whether a choice or not, what will you do when/if you are faced with your grandchild's desire to marry his/her same-sex partner?
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on June 22, 2008


*What about those who would have viewed their child as...*

*How do you think you will feel...*
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on June 22, 2008


thomsplace writes:
So, if my employer is approached by the state lottery, which I find morally repugnant, with a contract offer, can my employer force me to work with them?

Yes, because doing what your employer asks is a condition of the job. But, let's consider whether the lottery can claim an aggrieved status because of your employer's refusal to work with them.

To me, it depends on what service your employer offers. If it is garbage collection agency, there is no idea expressed through tangible creative work, so working with them can't be considered a violation of free expression rights.

If, however, they want your company to make an ad promoting the lottery, your company, if it does not want to express the idea that the lottery is cool and hip, should have the right to refuse the contract on the basis that it does not agree with the idea it is being asked to express.
posted by bugmuncher at 2:28 PM on June 22, 2008


bugmuncher, you were the one that brought up commercial speech versus individual speech rights.

But no matter: you're bugfuck crazy to think contractual wedding photography is some sort of "artistic" endeavour that should be exempt from business law. Next you'll want the caterer to be exempt because, hey, those little sprigs of parsley are an artistic flourish!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:43 PM on June 22, 2008


bugmuncher writes "But both are personal expression..."

Not in all cases (i.e., not all wedding photographers consider themselves "artists" in any sense), and in any event, the law doesn't make that sort of distinction. So, if your friends think that they are immune to such laws while providing a service, they are incorrect from a legal standpoint. Their personal objections on the basis of artistic expression don't really matter to the courts.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:46 PM on June 22, 2008


bugmuncher writes "To me, it depends on what service your employer offers. If it is garbage collection agency, there is no idea expressed through tangible creative work, so working with them can't be considered a violation of free expression rights."

The anti-discrimination laws do not curtail artistic expression. They only regulate how you may provide services to the public. You are still free to express yourself as you see fit, but not hire yourself out as a wedding photographer if your personal vision excludes people on the basis of protected classes.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:49 PM on June 22, 2008


But he's an artisté! He has to have the right to discriminate! It's for the sake of Art!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:19 PM on June 22, 2008


So, I guess my point is that if I have an existing employment "contract," (and Oregon is an at-will employment state, so it's kind of moot) and a new client comes in — lottery, porn, liquor, a church, the GOP, the DNC — even if I disagree with the content of what I'm creating (yes, I write for a living), my employer would be well within their rights to can me if I did not want to work on the project. Even though my employment precedes the new client. That's lame. Luckily, my employer does not see things that way. Woo-hoo for me!

I'm still curious what a business' obligations are when no one on staff would be willing to work on the project, due to religious or political objections. Especially a small business with limited resources. And couldn't nearly anything be shot down as a "political objection"? Is that even a valid reason for telling your employer you won't work on a new client's account?

So if my choices as a business are to serve everyone or no one, but no one on my staff can or will serve a new client (due to their own constitutional protections), then what? Close the doors and lay everyone off? Hire someone new? I mean, take the rural pharmacist thing. If you really believe that birth-control pills kill babies (or whatever), but you're the only pharmacist in your one-horse town, what are your financial obligations to find a pharmacist who will fill that prescription? What if you can't afford to hire another pharmacist? Will the people in town really be better off putting you out of business?

ericb write:
I suspect that Elane Photography's appeal will seek to prove that freedom of expression, freedom of association and/or freedom of religion trumps this current ruling. As well, they'll likely try to argue that Elane Photography is not a "public accomodation."

I would imagine that they will, too. And what an interesting legal debate that would open. I mean, I'm no attorney, but that is exactly the sort of fundamental judgment high courts are set up to render. Truly fascinating stuff: Pitting rights of the highest level against one another. My mind boggles at the hypotheticals.

I know there's a lot of frustration on the list with this discussion, but this is EXACTLY the reason I love metafilter. For the most part, it's reasoned, lively, interesting, and occasionally, witheringly funny. Thanks!
posted by thomsplace at 7:41 PM on June 22, 2008


you were the one that brought up commercial speech versus individual speech rights.

Did I make a distinction between them? I don't believe I did.

Next you'll want the caterer to be exempt because, hey, those little sprigs of parsley are an artistic flourish!

Neither I nor the U.S. Copyright Office consider a sprig of parsley to be an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression. My argument is a lot narrower than you make it out to be. This is about the right to publish what you want and refuse to publish what you don't want to publish, which I believe is protected under the U.S. Constitution.

Maybe a caterer might try to make the same argument I am, but I think they would have a lot more difficulty doing so, because they'd have to prove somehow that food can be an original work of tangible expression.

Not in all cases (i.e., not all wedding photographers consider themselves "artists" in any sense)

U.S. Copyright law still considers their photographs expression automatically, regardless of what the creator of those images might think.

The anti-discrimination laws do not curtail artistic expression... You are still free to express yourself as you see fit, but not hire yourself out as a wedding photographer if your personal vision excludes people on the basis of protected classes.

That appears to be the law in New Mexico. Sometimes, laws are passed that are found to be unconstitutional. I'm merely arguing that I find this law unconstitutional because it generally requires creators to publish things they don't want to publish, which is the opposite of freedom (the New Mexico Human Rights Commission doesn't rule on questions of constitutionality, so this question hasn't been decided yet).
posted by bugmuncher at 8:03 PM on June 22, 2008


Where's the love, y'all? I don't know.

Where's the love, y'all? I don't know.
posted by bwg at 8:51 PM on June 22, 2008


I'm merely arguing that I find this law unconstitutional because it generally requires creators to publish things they don't want to publish...

In the instance of this case, what does it mean to "publish" the photographs?

When a "wedding photography" company (legally registered and thus subject to various local, state and federal regulations) has been deemed to be one that provides services as a "public accomodation" is its "work product" treated differently when such is "distributed" only to a privately-contracted and paying client versus being more broadly "distributed" (aka "published" when such would require model releases, etc. from the paying, contracting client)?
posted by ericb at 9:40 PM on June 22, 2008


in the bloggers example, no gay couple was deprived of wedding photography. instead, an overly sensitive gay couple made a big stinking deal because their feelings were hurt. last i knew, there are no protected classes in getting feelings hurt. "i expected happiness and the big mean photographer failed to meet my expectations". awwwwww. i'm sure they found another photographer. overly litigious to the max. judicial stupidity to the max.

here we have an interesting todo over nothing: doctor asks a gay couple about their opinion of california ruling. gay couple offers opinion. doctor does not complain. doctor offers opinion. gay couple complains. hospital goes all politically correct. newspaper photographs gay couple with "victim" advocate, sitting around all serious and victimized. what a load of shit!
posted by quonsar at 11:19 AM on June 23, 2008


Yes, because, certainly, when gay people go into the emergency room for medical treatment, they're actually looking to be lectured on their lifestyle choices, and not, say, treated for whatever urgent problem brought you to the urgent care clinic in the first place. They're not suing, they're just complaining -- it doesn't seem all that blown out of proportion to me.

Were it me, I couldn't imagine feeling comfortable being treated by a doctor who just took the time to tell me my lifestyle choices are inappropriate. How would I be sure that his bigoted opinions wouldn't impact my treatment?
posted by jacquilynne at 11:34 AM on June 23, 2008


he asked for their opinion. they offered it. he then shared his. they bitched. poor babies.
posted by quonsar at 11:48 AM on June 23, 2008


If you're turning customers away because the anti-homosexual lobby may punish you if you don't then in my mind you're worse than the people who are doing the punishing.

Why?
posted by Deathalicious at 1:52 PM on June 23, 2008


"i expected happiness service and the big mean photographer failed to meet my expectations broke the law".

Fixed that for you.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:21 PM on June 23, 2008


Deathalicious, the word 'collaborator' comes to mind.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:26 PM on June 23, 2008


the word 'collaborator' comes to mind

You're demonizing the wrong people. It's not wrong to like having food and shelter.

And now I'll go back and actually read the thread from the beginning.
posted by oaf at 7:59 AM on June 24, 2008


Speaking of rights, there's no right to profitably run a business without ever having to adapt to emerging conditions.

You clearly have not heard of the entertainment industry.
posted by oaf at 8:11 AM on June 24, 2008


No, not really. Again, look at desegregation in the USA. Would you really argue that white restaurant owners should have continued to refuse service to blacks because they were afraid of losing white business?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:14 AM on June 24, 2008


Can theatre producers refuse to cast white people in Raisin in the Sun?
posted by oaf at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2008


If I'm parsing that correctly, there is a rational basis for requiring the actors to be black (though of course you could make a compelling case for colourblind casting, which happens frequently), in much the same way that there is a rational basis for requiring firefighters to meet certain physical standards, which happen to skew very very heavily towards men.

You're missing the point. on purpose, I suspect.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2008


there is a rational basis for requiring the actors to be black

Yes. It's called "making money."

You're missing the point.

You may be, but I'm not.
posted by oaf at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2008


oaf: see "bona fide occupational qualification"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:34 AM on June 24, 2008


OK, here's something similar. I write a play, and as a condition of allowing it to be performed, I require the cast members to fit the script. You purposely cast it with the main love interest being two men instead of a man and a woman. Can I stop your performance from going up?
posted by oaf at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2008


What DevilsAdvocate said. You really are missing the point... I hesitate to call it trolling, but you're skirting the line.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2008


Can I stop your performance from going up?

I would imagine not. I said rational reason, not exclusionary, which you would have noted if you'd bothered reading any further.

I retract my previous statement; you are trolling.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:36 AM on June 24, 2008


I would imagine not.

You would be wrong. Even in Canada.

you are trolling.

You are wrong.
posted by oaf at 1:09 PM on June 24, 2008


You would be wrong. Even in Canada.

Cite, please.

Unless the putative play in question rationally requires a heterosexual pairing, and the contract is legally enforceable, then no, you cannot prevent it from going up.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:46 PM on June 24, 2008


Not even if the play rationally requires a het pairing: there have been a number of plays where the director chooses an alternative interpretation. Females cast in male roles, males cast in female roles, role reversals, etc.

I've doubts there are any enforceable contracts when it comes to playwrighting, save that the owners get paid.

And, yes, oaf is pulling his usual jackass stunts. The guy has a special knack for figuring out how to come up with irrelevant "counterpoints" that are completely out to lunch. I guess it's something he's proud to do; he does it more than enough.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:44 PM on June 24, 2008


Unless the putative play in question rationally requires a heterosexual pairing, and the contract is legally enforceable, then no, you cannot prevent it from going up.

If the contract isn't legally enforceable, then there's no contract, and it can't be put up at all.

Anyway, I'm aware of a situation in which a production of a two-person play, written as a (heterosexual) love story, could have had one of the characters replaced with someone of the opposite sex, possibly without changing a single word uttered in the play (I'd have to reread it to be sure, but a lot of it would work just as well either way), and even keeping all the entertainment value for the audience. The playwright's agent was asked if this was acceptable; the answer was no. Any subsequent production could have easily been litigated out of existence.

A director's creative control never extends to rewriting the script or even altering a single word without the author's consent if the script is still protected by copyright.

there have been a number of plays where the director chooses an alternative interpretation

Shakespeare doesn't count.

If the playwright doesn't like it, and the play is still under copyright, the company must conform with the copyright holder's terms, or not produce the play at all.

I've doubts there are any enforceable contracts when it comes to playwrighting, save that the owners get paid.

You'd be wrong.

The guy has a special knack for figuring out how to come up with irrelevant "counterpoints" that are completely out to lunch.

Artistic control in photography and artistic control in theatre are unrelated?
posted by oaf at 7:03 PM on June 24, 2008


A director's creative control never extends to rewriting the script or even altering a single word without the author's consent if the script is still protected by copyright.

That, uh, actually depends on the terms. More to the point, the copyright extends to the written play, not the mechanics of the staging thereof. But, hey, you're an idiot and you don't know what you're talking about, so I'll just let you keep living right up to your username.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:21 PM on June 24, 2008


That, uh, actually depends on the terms.

You even quoted it—"without the author's consent." Without the author's consent, there's no contract, and you can't perform the play at all. If the author insists that the play be performed exactly as written, then they can (and in a lot of cases will) shut you down if you deviate from the script at all.

More to the point, the copyright extends to the written play, not the mechanics of the staging thereof.

It specifically does extend to the performance of such works and therefore to the staging.

you're an idiot and you don't know what you're talking about

I have familiarity with this subject. You obviously don't.
posted by oaf at 8:28 AM on June 25, 2008


I have familiarity with this subject. You obviously don't.

You would be mistaken.

Where are your citations? Funny how you keep saying things and never ever ever ever backing them up. You really did pick the right username.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2008


I have familiarity with this subject.

With what subject? The subject in the post, or the totally unrelated and irrelevant subject you brought up and are trying to argue with no evidence of any kind?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on June 25, 2008


There have been zero legal performances of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Martha and George as a same-sex couple. Albee won't allow it.

I know of a university performing arts group that went broke after adding four words to West Side Story.

Jason Robert Brown's agent rejected the idea of The Last Five Years with a female Jamie. The production can't legally go up without Brown's permission. This last one is in Canada, too.
posted by oaf at 9:19 AM on June 25, 2008


totally unrelated and irrelevant subject

Again, you need to explain how artistic control in photography and artistic control in theatre are unrelated before you can actually call it that.
posted by oaf at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2008


artistic control in photography

NOT RELEVANT. You did read the post, right? And the thread? At this point, you're just derailing a derail.

Also, uh, dude: Really? Huh.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:37 AM on June 25, 2008


NOT RELEVANT

Until they repeal the First Amendment, specifically the part about abridging freedom of speech, it's quite relevant. Why should I be forced to do something which will cost me business?

Also, uh, dude: Really? Huh.

Not sure which line you're referring to in my comment in this thread you link to, but the former is giving an answer to a question I asked above, and which dirtynumbangelboy indicated he wasn't entirely sure about, and the latter is just parroting the "you are trolling" statement.
posted by oaf at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2008


It seems to me that down here, the prevailing thought is "you can't make me do this thing I don't want to do, or else my rights are being violated," but north of the border, it's "I can make you do this thing you don't want to do, or else my rights are being violated."
posted by oaf at 9:58 AM on June 25, 2008


It seems to me that down here, the prevailing thought is "you can't make me do this thing I don't want to do, or else my rights are being violated,"

Yeah, except that both the plaintiff and statute in the case we are discussing are both American, and state the "opposite." (In scare quotes because they're not actually opposite at all, but rather a false dichotomy constructed by you.)

But again, no one is "making" anyone do anything that isn't a requirement of their chosen occupation; rather, those who attempt to skirt those requirements are being punished. Don't want to do it? Easy: Get a new line of work.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:25 AM on June 25, 2008


but north of the border, it's "I can make you do this thing you don't want to do, or else my rights are being violated."

You clearly have never heard of the entertainment industry.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:30 AM on June 25, 2008


Until they repeal the First Amendment, specifically the part about abridging freedom of speech, it's quite relevant.

Performing a service-for-hire isn't the same as free speech. Again: a wedding photographer is no more an artist than a plumber is. They may complete the job and make it look pretty, but they are not artists; they are providing a business service.

Why should I be forced to do something which will cost me business?

Why do you keep ignoring the comparison to lunch counters in mid-20th century USA?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:45 AM on June 25, 2008


Again: a wedding photographer is no more an artist than a plumber is.

A director is no more an artist than a wedding photographer is. He's just completing the job for the producer and making it look pretty.
posted by oaf at 2:49 PM on June 25, 2008


Why do you keep ignoring the comparison to lunch counters in mid-20th century USA?

You may be able to understand once (or if) you put away the false precept that a wedding photographer isn't an artist. You may want to reread some of bugmuncher's comments in this thread.
posted by oaf at 2:51 PM on June 25, 2008


Sys Rq, your last comment is nonsensical.
posted by oaf at 2:53 PM on June 25, 2008


A director is no more an artist than a wedding photographer is. He's just completing the job for the producer and making it look pretty.

That is true in some cases, not true in most.

You may be able to understand once (or if) you put away the false precept that a wedding photographer isn't an artist. You may want to reread some of bugmuncher's comments in this thread.

I read them; they're wrong.

Again: a wedding photographer is providing a specific business service. It is illegal to discriminate. Hide your homophobia with empty semantic games as much as you like, it won't make you right.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:35 PM on June 25, 2008


Hide your homophobia with empty semantic games as much as you like, it won't make you right.

What homophobia?
posted by oaf at 3:43 PM on June 25, 2008


Has the photographer appealed the commission's decision? No? Then that doesn't actually tell you that much, especially if the New Mexico Human Rights Commission is a kangaroo-court rubber-stamping setup like Canadian human rights commissions are.

a wedding photographer is providing a specific business service

Cite, please.
posted by oaf at 3:48 PM on June 25, 2008


Ah, he has appealed it, but it doesn't look like that process is done yet.
posted by oaf at 3:50 PM on June 25, 2008


and by "he has" I mean "they have"
posted by oaf at 3:51 PM on June 25, 2008


What homophobia?

You say discrimination should be allowed against homosexual people. You are strangely silent on allowing discrimination against people of colour, despite pointed questions asking you about that.

Cite, please.

Why? You refuse to provide them.

Look at it this way: you hire someone to decorate your house. Yes, they may put some of their own vision into it, but at the end of the day it is your vision that the money is paying for. They have no right to the work, they are not artists when on the job. Wedding photographers are no different, which is reasonably obvious to anyone who doesn't exemplify the username you have chosen for yourself.

And with that, I'm done. You're too stupid to bother arguing with, and it's a lovely evening outside.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:24 PM on June 25, 2008


...a wedding photographer is providing a specific business service -- Cite, please.

In this case it's quite clear to the NMHRC.

Let me repost some previous postings:
In the Elane Photography case the New Mexico Human Rights Commission "...found that Elane Photography, as a commercial business, provided a public accomodation and could not, under law, discriminate based on sexual orientation."*

Elane Photography registered and operates as a business which the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found to be a "public accomodation."

A commentor elsewhere says it well:
"If Elane wanted to maintain her ability to refuse service to individuals based upon her personal prejudices she should not have registered herself legally as a public business; instead, she should operate as a single invidiual who works as a independent contractor unassociated with any legal business entity. She was not working as a freelancer but as a vender [who] provides a service."

Claim of Public Accomodation Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
3. Ms. Willock brought a claim of public accomodation discrimination based on sexual orientation against Elane Photography, LLC, alleging that Elane Photography refused to offer its photographic services to her because of her sexual orientation, in violation of Section 28-1-7(F) of the NMHRA.

4. Section 28-1-7(F) of the NMHRA provides, in applicable parts, that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for: "any person in any public accomodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services, facilities, accomodations or goods to any person because of ... sexual orientation ..." NMSA 1978, § 28-1-7(F).

5. Section 28-1-2(P) of the NMHRA defines "sexual orientation" to mean: "heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, whether actual or perceived..." NMSA 1978 § 28-1-2(P).

6. Section 28-1-2(H) of the NMHRA defines "public accomodation" to mean: "any establishment that provides or offers its services, facilities, accomodations or goods to the public, but does not include a bona fide private club or other place or establishment that by its nature and use distinctly private..." NMSA 1978 § 28-1-2(H).

7. A similar prohibition against the discrimination of members of protected classes in public accomodations is contained in Title II of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a (1994 ed.) Section 2000a (a) provides the following: "All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accomodations of any place of public accomodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin." 42 U.S.C. § 2000a(a).

8. Federal adjudication may be relied on for guidance in analyzing a claim brought under the NMHRA. See Oceana v. American Furniture Co., 2004-NMSC-018, §23, 135 N.M. 539, 91 P.3d
The finding goes on to state that Ms. Willock established a prima facie case of discrimination with both direct and indirect proof.
posted by ericb at 6:57 PM on June 25, 2008


Ah, he has [they have] appealed it, but it doesn't look like that process is done yet.

Another previous post:
"I suspect that Elane Photography's appeal will seek to prove that freedom of expression, freedom of association and/or freedom of religion trumps this current ruling. As well, they'll likely try to argue that Elane Photography is not a 'appealpublic accomodation.'"
posted by ericb at 7:03 PM on June 25, 2008


*is not a 'a public accomodation.*
posted by ericb at 7:06 PM on June 25, 2008


In this case it's quite clear to the NMHRC.

Yes, but that will be reviewed by an actual court at some point unless the photographer's appeal is dropped.
posted by oaf at 9:28 PM on June 25, 2008


Why? You refuse to provide [citations].

Above, in the thread.
posted by oaf at 9:30 PM on June 25, 2008


And here's a link to an article.
posted by oaf at 9:49 PM on June 25, 2008


[a few comments removed - metatalk or email are your options, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 5:28 AM on June 26, 2008


You're too stupid to bother arguing with, and it's a lovely evening outside.

Oh, the irony.
posted by oaf at 7:47 AM on June 26, 2008


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