High court takes case involving refusal to serve gay couples

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new clash involving religion and the rights of LGBT people.

The high court said Tuesday it would hear the case of Colorado-based web designer Lorie Smith. Smith offers graphic and website design services and wants to expand to wedding website services, but she says her religious beliefs would lead her to decline any request from a same-sex couple to design a wedding website. She also wants to post a statement on her website about her beliefs, but that would run afoul of a Colorado anti-discrimination law. Smith had argued the law violates her free speech and religious rights.

The Supreme Court said in taking the case, however, that it would look only at the free speech issue. It said it would decide whether a law that requires an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The case is expected to be argued in the fall.

In a 2-1 ruling last year, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Smith’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling throwing out her legal challenge. The panel said Colorado had a compelling interest in protecting the “dignity interests” of members of marginalized groups through its law, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

The law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, is the same one at issue in the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips that was decided in 2018 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court said at the time that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted with anti-religious bias against Phillips after he refused to bake a cake for two men who were getting married. But it did not rule on the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to LGBTQ people.

Both Smith and Phillips were represented by the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom.

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5 thoughts on “High court takes case involving refusal to serve gay couples

  1. “Dignity interests” indeed. These LGBTQ+ couples and their sycophants troll the country looking for people to persecute for their beliefs, as if there aren’t dozens of wedding service providers and others all too willing to genuflect to their pet sin to pursue The Almighty Dollar.

    There must be a dearth of “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone” signs in storage around the country. If a business owner wants to do so, they should be free to do so…and if those to whom service is denied want to boycott that business and encourage acolytes of like mind to do the same, they should be free to do that as well….it works both ways.

    1. Under that logic, Bob, there would be no harm in, say, a bakery denying service to the “colored” since they could always go to another bakery. See how discriminatory that sounds? Or substitute in any group that has been historically discriminated against. No Italians served here. Stay away, you Irish! Catholics need not apply. The LGBTQ+ community is as deserving of their rights as any of these other groups. You’re just about 50 years behind the curve.

  2. I could see that the web sight designer was harmed if she was forced into a same sex marriage, but she advertised that she was offering the public a service, and now she wants to be picky about who she is offering that service to? Sorry, I don’t see it.

    A hundred (or even 50) years ago she could also claim to have deeply held religious beliefs that POC should not be treated the same. We call that discrimination. Religion has been finding new ways to justify bad behavior throughout the history of religion.