“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,” Lorence said. “This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free.”
Lorence said the New Mexico Supreme Court undermined the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and conscience.
“If Elane Photographer does not have her rights of conscience protected, then basically nobody does,” he told Fox News. “What you have here is the government punishing someone who says, ‘I, in good conscience, cannot communicate the messages of this wedding.’”
Amber Royster, the executive director of Equality New Mexico, called the court decision a big victory.
“What it came down to is this was a case about discrimination,” she told Fox News. “While we certainly believe we are all entitled to our religious beliefs, religious beliefs don’t necessarily make it okay to break the law by discriminating against others.”
Royster said forcing a business that offers services to the public to abide by discrimination laws does not violate the First Amendment – and does not pit gay rights against religious rights.
“It’s about discrimination,” she said. “It’s not religious rights versus gay rights. We have a law on the books that makes it illegal to discriminate against LGBT persons. It makes it illegal for business to do that and this business broke the law by discriminating against this couple.”
Ken Klukowsi, of the Family Research Council, called the ruling profoundly disturbing.
“This decision may bring to Americans’ attention the serious threat to religious liberty posed by overbearing government agencies when it comes to redefining marriage,” he said. “Rather than live and let live, this is forcing religious Americans to violate the basic teachings of their faith or lose their jobs.”
Lorence said they are considering appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This is very coercive, very authoritarian to crush those who do not agree and make public examples of them – and in a free society, that simply should not be,” he said.
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