A Feb. 27 Times editorial celebrated "free-speech and assembly rights" as "an essential element" of the Constitution.
Free exercise of religion is likewise an essential constitutional element, of course. But the Times editorial of March 3 said essentially that when "gay rights" run into the First Amendment, free-speech and free religious-exercise rights must give way
The article criticized Arizona's now-vetoed SB1062, characterizing the bill as "reacting to a court ruling against a photographer who didn't want to shoot a gay wedding."
The legislation "was couched as protecting the exercise of religion in opposing gay marriage," said the paper, and it later compared such outlooks to "racial discrimination."
In the New Mexico Supreme Court decision referenced, Justice Richard Bosson's concurring opinion acknowledged that Elaine Huguenin and her husband (who operate Elane Photography) "believed that creating photographs telling the story of (a same-sex wedding) would express a message contrary to their sincerely held beliefs, and that doing so would disobey God."
The Huguenins, Bosson recognized, "seek only the freedom not to endorse someone else's lifestyle."
Bosson himself, like the New Mexico court at large and the Times now, then relied upon the false presumption that homosexuality is analogous to race -- and compared the Huguenins' outlooks to anti-miscegenation laws invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967.
And so, Bosson said, the Huguenins "now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives."
With no apparent sense of irony, Bosson then decreed that "all of us must compromise" at some point, "to accommodate the contrasting values of others," thereby demonstrating "tolerance."
In other words, Bosson's brand of "tolerance" requires a one-way accommodation when "gay rights" are asserted.
As for analogizing homosexuality and race, many blacks reject the comparison. On Feb. 25, the day before Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer capitulated to big-business interests and vetoed SB1062, the Coalition of African American Pastors announced a national campaign to impeach Attorney General Eric Holder for interfering with state enforcement of bans on "same-sex marriage."
The coalition observes that too many of "our elected leaders are bent on destroying marriage, remaking it as a genderless institution and reorienting it to be all about the desires of adults rather than the needs of children."
Elane Photography's petition before the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting a writ of certiorari overturning the New Mexico ruling, cites previous Supreme Court decisions, which (1) hold that governments may not require a public accommodation to engage in unwanted speech; (2) forbid states from requiring their citizens to serve as expressive instruments for views conflicting with their beliefs, especially religious beliefs; and (3) recognize that visual depictions "such as photographs" are protected "expression."
Meanwhile, both 1993's federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and New Mexico's own 2000 Religious Freedom Restoration Act permit governmental interference with free religious exercise only via the "least restrictive means of furthering" a "compelling governmental interest."
In 2007, and even as of August 2013, when the New Mexico decision at issue here was filed, "same-gender" weddings had no defined legitimacy in the state, let alone any standing as "a compelling governmental interest."
And New Mexico's Religious Freedom Restoration Act defines free exercise of religion as "an act or a refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief" -- i.e., Elane Photography's court-recognized rationale.
So the court argued further that the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act "is violated only if a 'government agency' restricts a person's free exercise of religion," then decreed that neither the New Mexico Human Rights Commission (which issued the initial finding against Elane Photography) nor the courts themselves were government agencies.
In summary: The New Mexico decision starkly illustrates the galloping illogic and widespread disorder in today's courts.
Finally, more irony: When gay hairdresser Antonio Darden dropped New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a client in 2012 because of her opposition to same-sex marriage, she didn't call the Human Rights Commission. She took her business elsewhere. That's how things work when two-way tolerance is the rule.
Michael Arata is a Danville resident.