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Supreme Court Poised to Hear Another Same-Sex Wedding Case

December 2nd, 2022

A Washington state florist with objections to same-sex marriage recently withdrew a petition before the United States Supreme Court.
A woman is challenging an anti-discrimination law that would require her to provide a creative service for a same-sex wedding, thereby violating her beliefs.

The United States Supreme Court’s fall term will include a same-sex wedding case that will test the limits of religious liberty once again. The Court will consider whether a woman in Colorado can be required to provide services for a same-sex wedding even though she says it violates her religious beliefs. The woman is a graphic designer and considers herself an artist. She is challenging Colorado’s non-discrimination law that requires her to provide creative services to all people, regardless of sexual orientation. She claims creating a website for a same-sex couple goes against her religious beliefs. 

The Facts of the Same-Sex Wedding Case

The woman in this case brought legal action against various members of the state government, including the director of the state’s civil rights division. The woman is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, the same nonprofit organization that represented the plaintiff in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which visited similar issues in 2018. 

The woman owns 303 Creative, a company based out of Denver that she has operated since 2012. The woman believes that God commanded her to promote and celebrate his design for marriage by creating custom wedding websites for opposite-sex couples. The woman outlined her viewpoint on her website. While the woman claims that she serves anyone, the woman is selective about not communicating and promoting ideas that conflict with her own religious beliefs, such as making a website for a same-sex wedding.

The Law at the Heart of the Case

The woman states that she would gladly create designs for couples that identify as LGBTQ+, provided that the graphics on the websites do not violate the woman’s religious viewpoints. The woman argues that the same Colorado law involved in Masterpiece Cakeshop prevents her from expressing her religious views.

The law, Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, prohibits discrimination in places involving public accommodations. This discrimination can be based on either marital status or sexual orientation. 

In the original complaint filed by the woman, she claims that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act violates her rights because it makes it illegal for the woman to decline to create a website for a same-sex wedding.Due to the law, the woman claims that she is being prevented from expressing her perspective of God’s plan for marriage. The woman consequently challenged the regulation in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2021. 

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The majority of the Tenth Circuit ruled against the woman, but Judge Tymkovich dissented in the case. Tymkovich called the majority ruling unprecedented and argued that the Constitution protects people from being told what to do by the government. 

Response to the Decision

The lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom has commented that the state of Colorado is requiring the woman to celebrate a same-sex wedding that goes against her religious beliefs. As a result of this conflict, the lawyer argues that the case is ultimately about whether the Constitution protects artists like the woman who wants to serve everyone in the community but not create all messages.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who is defending the law, “worries that, if the high court sides with Smith, the ruling could threaten other anti-discrimination laws across the country.”

The free speech claim advanced here we think is dangerous and is one that, if granted, would open up a range of loopholes to anti-discrimination law,” said Weiser, “Discrimination is not expression. It is illegal conduct.”

Continue Reading the Universal Life Chuch’s Blog

After its 2015 Obergefell ruling, the United States Supreme Court gained several new conservative justices. As a result, many people fear that the Court will revisit LGBTQ+ issues it has already ruled on and issue a ruling curtailing LGBTQ+ rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy LGBTQ+ cases. We strive to do so in a way that objectively examines both sides and can easily be understood by readers.

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