The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis, which involves Christian web designer Lorie Smith. She filed a pre-enforcement lawsuit challenging a Colorado law that would compel her to create a message she opposes. For example, if she creates sites that celebrate marriage, she has to create sites that celebrate same-sex “marriage.”
The law also bars business owners from providing a reason for turning down services for such “weddings,” if the reason is religious.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission used the same law to sue Christian baker Jack Phillips after he declined to create a custom same-sex “wedding” cake. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor.
“Free speech is for everyone,” Alliance Defending Freedom CEO, president, and general counsel Kristen Waggoner said. “No one should be forced to say something they don’t believe.”
Like Phillips, Smith provides services for all kinds of customers, but she drew the line at being forced to promote a message she opposes.
“Like most graphic designers, every word she writes, every graphic she designs, and every custom website she crafts expresses a unique message—one that must be consistent with her beliefs, areas of passion, and personal expertise,” Waggoner said. “Americans should be free to express their ideas even if the government disagrees with them. That’s true for Lorie just as much as the LGBT graphic designer, which is why a win for Lorie is a win for all Americans.”
Waggoner argued Smith’s case before the high court. Both women recently appeared on Fox News.
Smith said she wants to create unique, one-of-a-kind expression and artwork and websites, particularly for weddings, consistent with her faith. But Colorado “is compelling and controlling my speech, chilling it, and forcing me to communicate a message through my custom, unique artwork that violates the core of who I am.”
Homosexual artists should support Smith. Imagine a law that forced them to create artwork that opposes same-sex “marriage.” What if a city passes an ordinance that compelled abortion-advocating photographers to photograph pro-life rallies? Everyone would get it.
Smith’s decisions turn on what the message is, not who the person is, Waggoner said. And it’s not the government’s role to decide what’s worthy of celebration. That’s up to citizens. Smith does not want to celebrate same-sex “marriage.”
Some argue that allowing Smith to refuse to provide services for same-sex “weddings” would lead others to refuse to serve blacks or Jews (a disingenuous assertion, of course). But under public accommodation law, you can’t refuse service to an entire class of people, Waggoner added. As Colorado itself admitted, Smith serves homosexual customers. She’s not discriminating against a class; she’s discriminating against a message. One is protected under the First Amendment, and one is not.
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