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Supreme Court Becomes Involved in Christian Website Dispute

May 13th, 2022

New Jersey recently passed a law to enshrine same-sex marriage rights into state law, after over a decade of efforts to do so.
The Supreme Court will hear a case brought by a Christian website designer who wants to be able to refuse service to LGBTQ customers.

The Supreme Court of the United States recently agreed to hear a challenge by a Christian website designer to a Colorado regulation that prohibits businesses from declining to serve clients due to their sexual orientation. Consequently, the United States Supreme Court will hear an argument addressing whether a regulation compelling an artist to speak or say nothing constitutes a free speech violation. This case has the potential to greatly curtail LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.

How the Christian Website Case Arose

The graphic designer at the heart of the case claims that she is interested in expanding her business to establish wedding websites promoting her view of marriage. The Christian website designer also posts statements clarifying why she declines to promote messages that go against her faith, including messages that endorse things like abortion or same-sex marriage. The designer, however, states that she cannot expand her business in such a way because the state’s regulations classify refusing service to LGBTQ customers as illegal.

The artist’s company pursued legal action even though it could not identify any investigation regarding the company’s activity or any complaints filed against the company. 

Colorado’s non-discrimination ordinance has since been upheld by two lower courts.

The court refused to take on the Christian website designer’s request for the court to consider overturning a precedent that protects laws that burden religious practice if they are generally applicable and neutral.

The Changing Landscape of Supreme Court Justices

The justices of the Supreme Court are poised to hear oral arguments and subsequently issue a ruling on the case sometime during the court’s next term, which will begin in October. If President Biden’s administration’s wishes are carried out, this case will be heard by the Supreme Court’s first black female justice, who President Biden has nominated to fill the role created by the retirement of Justice Breyer, a fellow liberal.

The Supreme Court now has a 6-3 conservative super-majority following the appointment of three of former President Trump’s nominees, and will decide various hot-bed issues including abortion and religion as well as same-sex rights. The court seems poised to overturn the nearly 50 year-precedent of Roe v. Wade, one of the foundational cases establishing the right to privacy, upon which LGBTQ rights have made advancements. Moreover, the conservative Justice Kennedy, who tended to support LGBTQ rights and wrote the opinion legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, was replaced by a more conservative justice who may not be as favorable to LGBTQ rights.

Previous Supreme Court Cases Involving LGBTQ+ Rights

In 2015, the Supreme Court heard the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges,which legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Despite the advance that this case represented for LGBTQ+ rights, the court in 2018 ruled 7-2 in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. This case involved a wedding cake designer who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court commented that Colorado’s civil rights division revealed “clear and impermissible” hostility towards the religious viewpoints underlying the baker’s choice.

Continue Reading the Universal Life Church’s Blog

Many issues involving the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States remain uncertain, but each month countless cases test the nature of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog is dedicated to documenting the most noteworthy of these cases. We strive to do so in a way that can be easily understood by readers and which examines opposing sides of each case.

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