Religion Clause: Christian Wedding Photographer Loses Suit Against NY Public Accommodation Law

In Emilee Carpenter, LLC v. James, (WD NY, Dec. 13, 2021), a New York federal district court refused to enjoin the application of New York’s public accommodation law to a Christian wedding photographer who refuses on religious grounds to photograph same-sex weddings. The court rejected plaintiff’s Free Speech and Free Exercise claims, saying in part:

Religion Clause: Christian Wedding Photographer Loses Suit Against NY Public Accommodation Law

New York has a compelling interest in ensuring that individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, have “equal access to publicly available goods and services.”…

The crux of Plaintiff’s claims is that her photography is the product of her unique artistic style and vision. Thus, an exemption for Plaintiff’s unique, nonfungible services would necessarily undermine, not serve, the State’s purpose, as it would “relegate [same-sex couples] to an inferior market” than that enjoyed by the public at large….

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