How do you weigh equal treatment of gay couples against free expression?

Photographer Elaine Huguenin via Alliance Defending Freedom.

“A New Mexico law forbids businesses open to the public to discriminate against gay people. Elaine Huguenin, a photographer, says she has no problem with that — so long as it does not force her to say something she does not believe,” writes in the New York Times.

“In asking the Supreme Court to hear her challenge to the law, Ms. Huguenin said that she would ‘gladly serve gays and lesbians — by, for example, providing them with portrait photography,’ but that she did not want to tell the stories of same-sex weddings. To make her celebrate something her religion tells her is wrong, she said, would hijack her right to free speech.

“So she turned down a request from a lesbian couple, Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth, to document their commitment ceremony. The women, who hired another photographer, filed a discrimination complaint against Ms. Huguenin’s studio, Elane Photography. So far, the studio has lost in the courts.”

The Times offers a few highlights of those arguing on the side of free speech:

“Photographers, writers, singers, actors, painters and others who create First Amendment-protected speech must have the right to decide which commissions to take and which to reject,” the libertarian Cato Institute and two law professors — Eugene Volokh of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dale Carpenter of the University of Minnesota — told the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Jordan W. Lorence, a lawyer at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Elane Photography, said Ms. Huguenin should be able to decline assignments at odds with her beliefs in a way that, say, motels and hardware stores may not. “There are some professions that are inherently expressive — an ad agency, website designer or even a tattoo artist,” he said.

“A tattoo artist should not be forced to put a swastika on an Aryan Nation guy,” Mr. Lorence said. “The government could not force someone to put a bumper sticker on their car that says, ‘I support same-sex marriage’ or ‘I support interracial marriage.’ ”

Today’s Question: How do you weigh equal treatment of gay couples against free expression?