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Someday you may be forced to do film work you don't want to do.


Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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Hopefully this is not too political for this forum. But someday you may be forced to do film work you don't want to do. At least that is what I gather from this article. (But I'm not very legal minded, so if I am wrong, then please correct.) 

Christian wedding photographer who refused to photograph same-sex weddings loses court case - DIY Photography

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Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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Regardless of a person's political views, I would think that most people in service based industries would wish to retain autonomy over who/what they are associated with. Even those on the liberal end of things may not wish to be forced to, say, shoot a project for a religious group promoting "pray your gay away" or something like that. This is a lose-lose for all involved IMO.

I cannot help but wonder if this type of ruling would also apply to services of a more "personal" nature in areas were they are legal? Would an escort in a legal brothel be required to service any client regardless of how they feel about it? Yikes.

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This is weird because it seems like fairly recently the Supreme Court ruled that a baker did not have to bake a cake for a gay couple because that was against his “religious beliefs.”

This wedding photographer case would seem to be (to me, a non-lawyer) in the same ballpark.

All that said, if someone is going to run a business that discriminates against a group of people based on arbitrary “religious beliefs,” I don’t see how that is any different from white-people-only business policies of the mid-1900s in the U.S.

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5 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

All that said, if someone is going to run a business that discriminates against a group of people based on arbitrary “religious beliefs,” I don’t see how that is any different from white-people-only business policies of the mid-1900s in the U.S.

In the USA, religious beliefs are protected; bigotry is not. Granted, there are some that may see overlap between the two (depending on how you view things). The true test could be what the prevailing view (and tradition) of a certain religious belief is. This is tricky with new belief systems or the "personal code" style of beliefs. For Christianity specifically, this is an easy test. Homosexuality has been condemned pretty much forever in that belief so it really isn't likely to be considered modern bigotry. Whereas, if someone tried to claim that their belief causes them to only serve white people and not people of color, that would be a hard one to justify under any religious system.

Edited by Matthew W. Phillips
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I'm on the side of the photographer - only because the wedding was same-sex. I affirm same-sex unions personally, but I would never demand that others must. I respect the photographer's stance, as there are good arguments against same-sex marriage. I just have a different opinion, and I don't think I should rant about why.

The photographer could be more shrewd, though. He could have not have given a reason for refusing. Or just charged a higher price. 

I was once asked for a quote by a non-Christian couple. I didn't get the job, but I never once thought that they weren't worthy of my work.

But, the OP's point is still valid: can I be forced to do a job I don't want to do? Isn't there a word for that?

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1 hour ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

But, the OP's point is still valid: can I be forced to do a job I don't want to do? Isn't there a word for that?

I don’t see how this is any different from denying service to someone because of their skin color or religion.

If someone works at a restaurant, then yes, they are forced to serve food to people who are Black or Catholic or whatever, even if the restaurant worker doesn’t like Black people or Catholic people.

I don’t see how the photography business is any different.

Is there maybe a legal loophole for one-person operations? Like if you are a sole proprietorship you can claim religious exemption and not serve Black people or Catholic people or whatever?

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26 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

I don’t see how the photography business is any different.

I think the difference lies in what you are forced to be a part of vs who you are serving. What if, as a photographer, you were forced to photograph porn because the client asked it of you? Do you not get the right to a moral (or occupational) objection?

Anyone has the right to service based on who they are; but not all content should be compelled. 

Had the gay couple came in asking for a cake that reads "Happy 5th birthday, Timothy" for their younger brother, I doubt anyone would refuse service to them because they are gay. By making the content of the cake related to the same sex marriage, some may feel that they are endorsing the union by participating in the process. I, personally, wouldn't care about a cake even if I were against same sex marriages as a cake seems harmless to me but everyone has their line they don't wish to cross.

I do wish to ask you if you believe DPs, Actors, etc should be forced to take any work that they are offered provided the rate is paid? Do you think that they have no right to refuse based on morality or ethics? Do female actors have a right to refuse nude roles even? Or does being in a service industry mean that we sell our autonomy and freedom?

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DPs, actors, etc. choosing what work to go out for... that’s different than a business refusing to serve someone. Obviously a movie production can’t force people to work against their will.

And a wedding is obviously very different than a porn movie shoot. If there is a venue that rents out for weddings, I don’t think anyone would want to make them rent that venue for a porn shoot. 

Back to the original question... can a wedding photographer be forced to photograph weddings that he finds religiously offensive? I think the answer is still based on whether the photographer is an employee of the wedding or if the photographer is a business providing a service to the public. 

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18 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

DPs, actors, etc. choosing what work to go out for... that’s different than a business refusing to serve someone.

Yes, DPs do choose. That's the point. Photography does not separate the product from the person. You're not rocking up in some drive-through ordering a full day session with fries. Photography is also not an essential business, and in addition to that, there are lots of them about. If one photographer doesn't want to take the job, ten others will.

3 hours ago, Chance Shirley said:

I don’t see how this is any different from denying service to someone because of their skin color or religion.

It is absolutely different. The photographer did not refuse because of sexuality. I think his lawyer messed up this one, perhaps. Or, the photographer wrote or said something egregious.

But, as I said, my philosophy is simple: STFU and take the cash. Or, decline the job if you must, and don't say why. 

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58 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

DPs, actors, etc. choosing what work to go out for... that’s different than a business refusing to serve someone.

It sounds to me like you are making qualitative judgments that give yourself an out while making others do something they arent comfortable with. It isn't "different." People either have the right to perform their job in a way that they can live with or they don't.

I hope this doesn't get me in trouble for saying but Hollywood has shown in recent years that many in power are hypocrites and preach a certain standard that they cannot live by. I am not "part of the industry" down there so I can view it from the eyes of the average American. People are tired of being preached to about certain progressive causes only to find out that the same industry that has been shoving it down their throats cannot live up to their own standard.

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14 minutes ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

If one photographer doesn't want to take the job, ten others will.

I’m still not sure this is the point — legally speaking, I think this is more about businesses discriminating vs. a worker-for-hire turning down a job.

Regardless, it’s easy enough to say “just hire a different photographer.” I just wonder at what point that approach puts an undue burden on people who want photos of their wedding. Probably not a big deal in a big city with hundreds of photographers. But maybe a problem in a small town with only a handful of photographers.

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42 minutes ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

But, as I said, my philosophy is simple: STFU and take the cash. Or, decline the job if you must, and don't say why. 

I agree with this completely. If I don't want to do something, I wont do it. But I will not tell you the reason why. I can simply make up any excuse to circumvent the situation. If people don't believe my reasons, that is their business. Never give anyone anything that they can use to cause a problem for you.

Edited by Matthew W. Phillips
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2 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

Regardless, it’s easy enough to say “just hire a different photographer.” I just wonder at what point that approach puts an undue burden on people who want photos of their wedding. Probably not a big deal in a big city with hundreds of photographers. But maybe a problem in a small town with only a handful of photographers.

I have a question for you...would you want to hire someone for something important who didnt really want to be there? Would you want to eat a cake prepared by someone who dislikes your lifestyle?

Who in the hell are these people who want to pay for services from people who don't want to serve them? It seems like you will not like the results.

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1 minute ago, Matthew W. Phillips said:

I have a question for you...would you want to hire someone for something important who didnt really want to be there? Would you want to eat a cake prepared by someone who dislikes your lifestyle?

I very much doubt that the photographer who lost the case was forced to do any work. This is about discrimination not about forcing anyone to work against their will.

 

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4 minutes ago, Matthew W. Phillips said:

It sounds to me like you are making qualitative judgments that give yourself an out while making others do something they arent comfortable with.

No, that’s not what I am doing at all.

1. If you, an individual person, don’t want to take a job with a company you don’t like for whatever reason, that is 100% your decision.

2. If a business refuses to provide a service to a customer because of the customer’s race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc., that is problematic if not illegal.

So, again, the photographer case boils down (to me, at least) to whether the photographer is a worker-for-hire or whether he is a business providing a service to customers.

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3 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

I very much doubt that the photographer who lost the case was forced to do any work. This is about discrimination not about forcing anyone to work against their will.

 

From reading the article, it was more of a "presumptive" lawsuit from the photographer against the law but there was no actual same-sex couple that asked for work. However, the striking down of the photographer's lawsuit is telling other service-based providers that if you deny a potential customer based on these facts that you can be fined $100,000. That is essentially forcing people into taking the work (and it is unclear from the article what standard the photographer would have for denying work; if any)

I am concerned that this will turn into a situation where the burden of proof is on the photographer to establish that what they did was not discrimination as opposed to the burden being on the potential client to prove that it is.

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6 minutes ago, Matthew W. Phillips said:

I have a question for you...would you want to hire someone for something important who didnt really want to be there?

No, I don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t want the job.

But, again, am I hiring a photographer, or am I paying a business that provides a service (wedding photography) to provide that service?

If there is only one bakery in town and they refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding, does a gay couple have to order a cake from out of town? Do they have to go to a different town to get married if none of the wedding venues will rent to a gay wedding?

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1 minute ago, Chance Shirley said:

But, again, am I hiring a photographer, or am I paying a business that provides a service (wedding photography) to provide that service?

One would hope that a large scale wedding photography business would have at least one person on staff who wouldn't mind offering services for a gay wedding. Maybe that is a good job interview question?

2 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

If there is only one bakery in town and they refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding, does a gay couple have to order a cake from out of town? Do they have to go to a different town to get married if none of the wedding venues will rent to a gay wedding?

I don't know anyone who gets married without having all of their "ducks in a row" months ahead of time. Discrimination aside, it could be as easy to foil a last minute wedding as realizing that the venues are all booked, the caterer got the flu, supply chain issues with fabric for the wedding garments, etc, etc. I cannot imagine that any serious wedding would not plan an important event like this well ahead of time.

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3 minutes ago, Chance Shirley said:

So you are saying if you run a restaurant, you can refuse to serve a meal to people of color? Like they used to do back in the segregation days?

I am not saying that. I am saying that the rules that apply to businesses apply to work for hire also. An independent caterer cannot refuse to serve a black man, for instance, either. (Assuming that the only reason for not serving them is because they are black)

Edited by Matthew W. Phillips
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Just now, Matthew W. Phillips said:

I am not saying that. I am saying that the rules that apply to businesses apply to work for hire also. An independent caterer cannot refuse to serve a black man, for instance, either.

But it is fine if the independent caterer refuses to serve a gay man?

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Just now, Chance Shirley said:

But it is fine if the independent caterer refuses to serve a gay man?

I don't believe it is fine to refuse to serve a person because they are gay. But I have no idea why you cannot separate the concept of person vs action. The only way to explain to you the difference is in using a stark example...

Say you had an atheist come into an Orthodox Jewish catering business and demand shellfish for their gathering. The caterer refuses...not because the guy is an atheist but because the action of working with, touching, and preparing shellfish violates Torah. Are they being discriminatory because the guy happens to be atheist?

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1 minute ago, Matthew W. Phillips said:

I don't believe it is fine to refuse to serve a person because they are gay. But I have no idea why you cannot separate the concept of person vs action. The only way to explain to you the difference is in using a stark example...

Say you had an atheist come into an Orthodox Jewish catering business and demand shellfish for their gathering. The caterer refuses...not because the guy is an atheist but because the action of working with, touching, and preparing shellfish violates Torah. Are they being discriminatory because the guy happens to be atheist?

Sorry Matthew, but that argument doesn't work. A Jewish catering business won't offer shellfish.

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4 minutes ago, Uli Meyer said:

Sorry Matthew, but that argument doesn't work. A Jewish catering business won't offer shellfish.

Yeah, a Jewish catering business won’t offer shellfish to anybody. Just like I imagine there are vegan catering companies that don’t prepare meat dishes for anybody.

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