You’ll be hard pressed to find a more damning indictment of how little we’ve taught the past couple generations of Americans to understand and cherish liberty than the lack of reaction to the New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling that Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, proprietors of Elaine Photography, cannot legally refuse to serve Vanessa Willock’s “commitment ceremony” to her female partner. As I write this, over 60,000 people have motivated themselves to petition Warner Bros. to get someone other than Ben Affleck to play Batman, but the erosion of our basic liberties goes unnoticed.
Throwing out the federal Bill of Rights in favor of the insidiously-named New Mexico Human Rights Act, the court decided “that a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the antidiscrimination provisions of the NMHRA and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples,” and even more preposterously, that compulsory assistance in celebrating a gay union didn’t violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and religious exercise because it didn’t also prevent them from “post[ing] a disclaimer on their website or in their studio advertising that they oppose same-sex marriage but that they comply with applicable antidiscrimination laws.”
Fantastic. We can stretch the word “privacy” to encompass killing your son or daughter in the womb, “among the several states” to include activity that never crosses state lines, and “general welfare” to authorize a never-ending list of social programs…but we just can’t fathom how declining to participate in rituals you disagree with and your religion frowns upon could possibly have anything to do with speech or exercise of religion.
But the most openly un-American proclamations came from Justice Richard Bosson’s concurring opinion:
“On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others.”
Ah, the liberal philosopher-king, condescending to “teach” us rubes his glorious truth. But apparently compromise is a one-way street, as Bosson fails to explain why the lesbian couple shouldn’t have “accommodated” the Huguenins’ “contrasting values” by simply exercising their freedom to find another photographer. If his invocation of liberty was even remotely sincere, why should the accommodation that involves coercive force trump the one that doesn’t?
“The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.”
In other words, as long as they keep their faith nicely seated at the back of the bus. And whenever someone starts intoning about ominous “prices” they would saddle us with, ask them who charged it and where we agreed to it. The only “price” that our living under a common flag requires we pay to those of differing values is the one spelled out in our Declaration of Independence: that we not use force to interfere with their own “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” so long as they leave us free in the same respect.
“In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different.”
No honest and competent jurist could possibly describe this ruling as merely asking to “leave space” for gay neighbors. The Huguenins took no space from Willock; she came to them, then sued to forcibly drag them into her space. It is she who ran roughshod over the principles of tolerance and pluralism. And for all his self-righteousness, Richard Bosson is an enabler of the very evils he pompously rails against.
The message is clear: unless you agree with liberals, don’t even bother starting a small business or participating in the public square. Just to be on the safe side, stay quiet and keep your head down whenever you have to leave the house.
In a healthy society, this ruling would terrify and enrage Americans of every background, who would instantly recognize the tyrannical impulses behind it and rightly understand that they might be next, should our liberal betters turn their sights on any number of other “undesirable” beliefs. Law schools across the country would scramble to update lesson plans with this new shining example of everything a decent judge is supposed to avoid. But once again, more liberty is stolen because a miseducated people cannot be bothered to keep watch.