As more states permit gay couples to marry or form civil unions, wedding professionals in at least six states have run headlong into state antidiscrimination laws after refusing for religious reasons to bake cakes, arrange flowers or perform other services for same-sex couples.
The issue gained attention in August, when the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that an Albuquerque photography business violated state antidiscrimination laws after its owners declined to snap photos of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.
Similar cases are pending in Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oregon and Washington, and some experts think the underlying legal question—whether free-speech and religious rights should allow exceptions to state antidiscrimination laws—could ultimately wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Religious-rights advocates argue that the Constitution affords people the right to abstain from a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs. “It’s an evisceration of our freedom of association,” said John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, a group opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage.
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