Raúl Torrez | Attorney General

AG Balderas Joins Coalition in Defending Anti-Discrimination Laws to Protect LGBTQ Americans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2018

Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

Brief filed in case of business refusing to offer wedding services to same-sex couples

Santa Fe, NM – Attorney General Hector Balderas today joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief defending the constitutionality of Minnesota’s anti-discrimination law. The brief was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in the case of Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey. The case was brought by the owners of a videography service who do not want to offer their wedding-related services to same-sex couples as required under the Minnesota public accommodations law. They are challenging the law, claiming it violates their freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.

“Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated in New Mexico, and I will continue to fight against any attempt to discriminate against same-sex couples and members of the LGBTQ community,” said Attorney General Balderas. “New Mexico has some of the strongest human rights protections in the country, our businesses thrive by serving all New Mexicans, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, and we will fight together to protect the rights of all samesex couples in the United States.”

The attorneys general filed the brief in support of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, defending the constitutionality of the Minnesota public accommodations law.

In the brief, the attorneys general write that states across the country have enacted laws to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in the commercial marketplace, and that “these laws ensure equal enjoyment of goods and services and combat the severe personal, economic, and social harms caused by discrimination.” The attorneys general argue that, under a long line of Supreme Court precedent, requiring businesses to comply with such laws does not violate the Constitution.

The attorneys general further argue that the First Amendment exemption to public accommodations laws sought by the business would dramatically undermine anti-discrimination laws.

The attorneys general write, “Allowing commercial businesses to use the First Amendment as a shield for discriminatory conduct would undermine state civil rights laws and the vital benefits they provide to residents and visitors, leaving behind a society separate and unequal by law. Many Americans would face exclusion from a host of everyday businesses or, at the very least, the ever-present threat that any business owner could refuse to serve them when they walk in the door—simply because of their sexual orientation, or their race, religion, or gender.”

Joining Attorney General Balderas in the amicus brief in support of Minnesota are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Please see attached for a copy of the brief that was filed today.

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Raul Torrez

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