A slave is somebody compelled to provide service to another. Elane Huguenin, a wedding photographer from New Mexico, was arraigned before that state’s “human rights” soviet for politely declining to provide her services to a lesbian couple planning a “commitment ceremony” (the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage).
The couple had no difficulty finding another photographer willing to accept payment for that service, and thanks to their punitive impulses – and the totalitarian “public accommodations” law in that state – they were able to use money extracted from Huguenin in the form of fines in order to pay for their photographs.
In declining the couple’s business, Elane Huguenin did not injure or defraud anybody. The same is true of Antonio Darden, a gay hairdresser from Santa Fe who earned nation-wide publicity a couple of years ago when he announced that he would not accept business from New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez because she is an opponent of same-sex marriage. Both Huguenin and Darden sought to exercise their property rights by declining proposed business transactions. Only Darden was permitted to do so, because he – unlike Huguenin – belongs to a “specially protected” class.
In its ruling upholding the actions of New Mexico’s “human rights” soviet, the State Supreme Court claimed that the lesbian couple had a right “to obtain goods and services from a public accommodation without discrimination on the basis of … sexual orientation.” This assumes that business owners like Huguenin have a duty to provide such services – and no right to decline participation in that transaction. In other words, involuntary servitude – despite being explicitly banned by the 13th Amendment – is justified in the service of “anti-discrimination” policy.
Attorneys on behalf of Huguenin appealed that ruling to the US Supreme Court, contending that it violated the free speech and religious liberty “guarantees” of the First Amendment – which it manifestly did. Huguenin’s legal counsel could have argued that the state’s Human Rights Act — which was amended in 2003 to include “sexual orientation” within the protected categories — represents a wholesale violation of property rights. This argument would only find traction, unfortunately, in a society where property rights are properly understood.
Huguenin’s counsel could have pointed out that the preferential treatment of property owners such as Mr. Darden – who is allowed to discriminate against some customers on ideological grounds – violates the principle of equal protection under the law. But such preferential treatment is the entire point of “civil rights” enactments.
The US Supreme Court has declined Hugeunin’s appeal, tacitly ratifying the state supreme court’s endorsement of involuntary servitude in the name of “tolerance.”