Would you believe legislators drafted and passed a bill (which the governor signed into law) barring creative professionals from explaining to a person asking about a particular service why they can’t perform that service if the reason is religious?
Such laws are intended to stifle Christian business owners who refuse to provide services for homosexual “weddings.”
One Christian business owner in Colorado lost in federal court trying to protect her religious freedom. Lorie Smith, a web designer, filed a lawsuit against the state in 2016. Although she hadn’t been accused of discrimination, Smith’s lawsuit was a “pre-enforcement challenge” to protect herself against the so-called non-discrimination law.
The law would make it unlawful for Smith and her company to “publish, display, or mail any communication stating that they will not design, create, or publish websites celebrating same-sex marriages.” Why can’t she express herself concerning her own business? And would turning down homosexual “marriage” business put her in legal jeopardy?
Smith knew that sooner or later the homosexual lobby would make a test case of her and infringe on her right to conduct her business according to her religious beliefs and her conscience. Her legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, reported that Smith recently filed an appeal to the decision. The court had issued an order upholding the state law.
The September order finalized a May ruling and adds to a previous decision that would allow Colorado officials to force Smith to design and publish websites promoting messages or causes that conflict with her beliefs.
In the May ruling in 303 Creative v. Elenis, the court said that it ruled as it did because it “assumes the constitutionality” of the Colorado law. Other courts have recently found otherwise regarding similar laws in Minnesota and Arizona.
Regarding those two states, a Christian filmmaking couple in Minnesota won in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in August, although state officials are still harassing them. According to a state law, the couple would have to make positive films about homosexual “marriage” if they make such films about actual marriage.
In Arizona, the state’s highest court ruled in favor of two Christian graphic artists who don’t want to make invitations for homosexual “weddings.” The court ruled that the city of Phoenix’s so-called non-discrimination ordinance would discriminate against these two artists.
“Creative professionals should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of coercion, discrimination, or intimidation by the state,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson. “Just because a multimedia artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean the government can require her to express all viewpoints, especially when that forced expression violates her religious convictions. We’re hoping that the 10th Circuit will affirm that principle just as the 8th Circuit and the Arizona Supreme Court recently did in similar cases.” [emphasis added]