Judge dismisses lawsuit by Elmira photographer who refused to photograph same-sex marriages

Regional News

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A New York judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by an Elmira wedding photographer who refused to photograph same-sex marriages, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The wedding photographer, Emilee Carpenter, filed a lawsuit against the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the state Division of Human Rights, and the Chemung County District Attorney’s Office in October, claiming that New York’s anti-discrimination laws violated her right to refuse to photograph same-sex marriages and that the New York’s public accommodation laws violate her First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

Carpenter said the laws “substantially burden [her] sincerely held religious beliefs by requiring [her] to either operate [her] expressive business in a way that violates [s] [her] religious beliefs or to close [her] business.”

According to court documents, Carpenter said she would “not accept any projects… celebrating “anything immoral” or “dishonorable to God.”

“This court decision is a huge victory in our pursuit to ensure that every New Yorker has equal access and equal protection under the law,” said Attorney General James. “The LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of New York, and no New Yorker should be excluded or turned away from a business or denied a service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Love is love, which is why my office will always fight to ensure that all New Yorkers are treated equally under the law.”

The case was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr., who the AG’s office says cited that historically underserved, disfavored, or disadvantaged individuals are entitled to the same access to the public marketplace as afforded to everyone else, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Carpenter was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom — an Arizona-based, Christian, nonprofit advocacy group.

The full decision can be read below:

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