Thursday, April 08, 2021

Christian Wedding Photographer Sues Over NY Public Accommodation Law

Suit was filed this week in a New York federal district court challenging on 1st Amendment grounds the application of New York's public accommodation law to a Christian wedding photographer.  Among other things, the law broadly prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.  The complaint (full text) in Emilee Carpenter, LLC v. James, (WD NY, filed 4/6/2021), alleges in part:

[T]he Accommodations Clause ... makes it unlawful for Emilee to treat photography requests for same-sex engagements and weddings different from photography requests for opposite-sex weddings—whether by responding to the former more slowly, by always referring the former to another photographer, or by offering any part of her services to the latter but not the former, such as posting wedding photographs or blogs for opposite-sex weddings on her website but not posting wedding photographs or blogs for same-sex weddings.

... In short, the Accommodations Clause forces Emilee to celebrate same-sex engagements or weddings and would require her to promote messages that violate her religious beliefs or require her to participate in religious ceremonies that violate her religious beliefs, something she cannot do....

ADF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.