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Danay Diaz
Professor John Kubler
English 115
22 Sep 2014
Human Rights VS Bill of Rights
Religious freedom, one of the main reasons the founding fathers fled from England, has
become something that many people take for granted. The first amendment states that everyone
has the right to freedom of speech and religion. Ever since the founding fathers have began
forming the United States, the separation of state and church has never been perfected. Even
today, there are many incidents where religious freedom clashes with human rights. I believe that
separating the two is not easy, however, there needs to be an understanding on which-legally-is
more important.
In a recent case, the Elane Photography case, was affiliated with religious rights and
human rights. In this case, a photography company denied wedding photos to a lesbian couple
because it went against the religious beliefs of the owner. The same-sex couple felt as if this
violated their human rights and that the company was discriminating against them based off of
sexual orientation. This case was mostly impacted by the NMHRA (New Mexico Human Rights
Act). The NMHRA stated that the Legislature . . . made the policy decision to prohibit public
accommodations from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation (Elane
Photography 3), which gave the same-sex couple the upper hand. However, with this law, the
court of New Mexico is requiring Elane Photography to accept clients against its will (Elane
Photography 5). Although I believe any business has the right to turn away any customer, turning

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away a same-sex couple is discrimination. People who do not find religious practices so
important see this as Elane Photography being bias against gay couples.
In a manner of business, this case can be viewed as practical. For example, Elane
Photography did not completely deny the same-sex couple from photos. The company denied
sexual poses in the photos, because the company did not want to convey through [the same-sex
couples]s pictures the story of an event celebrating an understanding of marriage that conflicts
with [the company] beliefs (6). In my opinion, if the company does not want to advertise or
attract same-sex couples, then that company or business should have the right to do so. Since
same-sex marriage is not fully accepted all over the world, it is more likely to get bad publicity
than good publicity from advertising same-sex marriage. A personal example would be myself.
Growing up in a Christian family, I know my mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, and many of my
cousins would not take services from a company who supported gay marriage. Not because they
do not support same-sex love or against homosexuals, but because it simply just goes against
their beliefs.
The courts jury agreed on a verdict stating that the same-sex couple should have been
given servce. In spite of the fact that Elane Photography did take care of the situation in a poor
manner, I believe that to court, was more than unnecessary. Elane Photography made a moving
argument saying that enforcing the NMHRA against it would mean that an African-American
photographer could not legally refuse to photograph a Ku Klux Klan rally (Elane Photography
20). Despite the fact that that situation is more extreme than the Elane Photography case, it is a
good argument as to why the company should have had the right to turn away the couple due to

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religious freedom. Nonetheless, the same-sex couple over came the discrimination of the
company and won the case.
A case similar to the Elane Photography case occurred in the state of Washington, where
a florist denied service for a same-sex wedding. This was a small local flower shop, owned by
Barronelle Stutzman. Stutzman has been there and serving her city for over 37 years. The man
she turned down-Robert Ingersoll- was someone whom she has had been serving for over nine
years. Considering how much this couple loved Mrs. Stutzman, they wanted her to cover their
wedding with her beautiful floral arrangements. Hence, Mrs. Stutzman is not against
homosexuals since she has been supporting Robert and his boyfriend for a long period of time.
Mrs. Stutzman says, it was a real struggle to decide what to do with [his offer]. . . my husband
and I talked it over, and well as much as I love Rob, I just couldnt be a part of that (Stutzman
Story 2:27). In this quote-directly from Mrs. Stutzman- she states that she simply does not want
to be a part of the wedding. Her reason is not because she does not support Rob or want him to
be happy, but because it goes against her own personal religious beliefs.
When confronting Rob about her decision, Stutzman says that [they] hugged each other
and he left, and [she] assumed that was the end of the story (Keprtv 1). With this being said, it
shows that Rob seemed calm and unhurt when first told about the reasoning behind why she
could not do their wedding. Yet, soon after their conversation, this event hit social media. In an
instance, something that seemed dealt with, blew out of proportion. Stutzmans floral shop was
attacked with threatening letters and hate messages. Many people posted things such as:
Hypocrite...you will burn in hell, also many other floral shops had something to say about
what has happened. Floral shops around the town began to say things like: She doesn't have the

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right to say no, and I disagree with her, they deserve to have flowers, too. Although there was
a lot of controversy going towards the small flower shop, Stutzman kept her head high. She
states, It's a personal convictionits not a matter of being right or wrong. It's my
belief (Keprtv 1). Stating that she does not believe that there is a right or wrong decision shows
that she simply is just trying to protect her religious freedom and beliefs.
The difference with this case and the Elane Photography Case, is that Stutzman has
supported the couple for nine years. She provided anniversary flowers, birthday flowers, and
other fancy events. The only time she drew the line was when marriage was involved. In her
mind a marriage is a religious ceremony, therefore she has her own personal religious views on
marriage. If she has been serving the couple for nine years, then she does not have an ignorant
view on sexual orientation, nor is she discriminating against them, she is simply just standing up
for something she believes in. Rob could have respected the fact that Stutzman was so honest
and could have gone along with his wedding plans with another flower shop. The court has not
yet decided on a verdict.
In a somewhat similar case, known as the Hobby Lobby case, also has to do with human
rights versus religious beliefs, but in a different manner. The case was primarily about
employers covering insurance for women who need (or want) a contraceptive. The reason behind
why: it went against the owners beliefs. The court decided to allow the employers to deny their
employees contraceptive options. Women should be able to avoid and prevent an unwanted
pregnancy, weather they can afford it or not. The Hobby Lobby argues that by denying women
this option, they are simply protecting their religious freedom. Women who "do not share the
corporation owner's religious faith" (Hobby Lobby 61) will not be supported in ways that do not

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agree with their employers. The Supreme Court protects religious freedom within this case,
however, in the other two cases the court did not support the religious rights of the owners. By
allowing the company to make decisions based on their religious beliefs, then they are allowing
women to have the option based off of their religious beliefs as well. I understand if an employer
does not support their employees decisions; "if [a persons] action substantially burdens a person's
religious observance" (70), then they have the right to express their displeasure, not to take away
their human rights.
Something that shocks me within this case is that religious freedom wins; but when
religious freedom is against gay rights, the gay rights overcome religious freedom. Many people
believe that abortion is a sinful deed and that women should not be able to have an abortion,
however, people do not understand that, no one asks for an unwanted pregnancy. If a man does
not want his child, or cannot support their child, he can just walk away. However, if a woman
does not want her child, or cannot support it, she must burn in hell for it.
As a feminist take on the Hobby Lobby case, I believe it is not portrayed enough as a
double-standard, sexist case. The concept of getting an abortion is very upsetting and probably
not the most admirable thing, but when needed its an important option to have. Imagine this:
you are 16 years old in high school with your entire life ahead of you, and you or your partner
become pregnant.You need to spend the rest of your life taking care of this child on your own
and make sure that this child has a better life than you, because now their life is yours. That
should not be the only option women, especially young women, have once they have gotten
pregnant. Women do not have many options once they are pregnant. Many people do not take
into consideration is, if a woman who is unable to raise a child has a child, that child is now

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living in a home that is not suitable for an infant. I believe women are smart enough to know
when they can take on that task of having a child; if they believe they cannot, then they should
have the option of abortion.
Marjane Satrapi, the author of the book Persepolis, is a young woman who is raised in a
very religious household. Most young children want to be a princess or a superhero, not Marjane,
she wants to grow up to be a prophet. A strong example of how religion can control society is
when Marjane is telling her grandmother about all the amazing things she will accomplish once
she becomes a prophet. When asked: how [will you] arrange for old people not to
suffer? (Satrapi 7), she says: it will simply be forbidden (Satrapi 7). With this being said,
Marjane already can see that religion is a lifestyle for her; it is something that allows and forbids
her from making her own decisions.
During this time, Marjis home is under attack. Her Persian culture and beliefs were on
the line. Her family believed in Marxism for their government, Marxism is also known as
Communism. Since their government was entirely controlled by a different view, Marjane and
her family could not be open about their ideals. Any communist during that time would be
gathered, arrested and executed. Early in the book, Marjane notices how much Marx and God
looked like each other (Satrapi 13), with that being said, it foreshadows her faith and gives us
character insight on how much interest and impact Marjanes religion and beliefs have on her
lifestyle. As the revolution goes on, Marjane learns more about the political world and the way
religion has a huge factor. An important concept in Persepolis is how even if you believe in
religion A, and the government supports religion B, then you can no longer practice your
preferred religon. Everyone under that government will need to forget their beliefs of religion A

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and begin to support religion B. Without the freedom of practicing whichever religion you prefer,
you are not receiving full human rights. This, like in the book, can lead to a rebellion.
As the revolution got stronger, rules got more strict, and people began to lose more of
their faith. A harsh reality for Marjane was when her mother was brutally insulted. Her mother
was told that woman like [her] should be pushed up against a wall and fucked. And then thrown
in the garbage (Satrapi 74). She was insulted because she was not covering herself in the proper
attire of the new regime. The new proper attire for a woman during this time consisted of: not
showing hair, arms, ankles, or anything that may arouse a man.
Persepolis is filled with strong, amazing examples of how religion and government does
not make a great nation. When the government begins to tell you what you must believe,
practice, and support, you are no longer your own person. You are now living under what the
government wants you to believe.
To fully separate church and house is just as difficult as pulling teeth. I believe that the
government officials, as well as court officials, should come to an agreement on which side they
should support in multiple cases like the Elane Photography and the Hobby Lobby case.