The court ruled 6-3 for designer Lorie Smith in defiance of Colorado law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender and other characteristics.
WASHINGTON — In a failure of gay rights, Supreme Court A conservative majority ruled on Friday that a Christian graphic artist looking to design a wedding website could refuse to work with same-sex couples. One of the court’s libertarian judges wrote in a protest that the decision’s effect was to “mark gays and lesbians with second-class status” and that the decision opening the door for other discriminatory acts.
The court ruled 6-3 for designer Lorie Smith, saying she can refuse to design a website for a same-sex wedding even though Colorado law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, or sexual orientation. race, sex, and other characteristics. The court said forcing her to create websites would violate her right to free speech under the Constitution’s First Amendment.
The decision suggests that artists, photographers, videographers and writers are among those who could refuse to provide what the courts have called expressive services if doing so would be contrary to good faith. their. But that is different from other businesses that do not engage in speech and therefore are not governed by the First Amendment, such as restaurants and hotels.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote to the court’s six conservative judges that the First Amendment “images the United States as a rich and complex place where all are free to think and speak as they please. they want, not at the request of the government.” Gorsuch said the court has long held that “the opportunity for self-reflection and the freedom to express those thoughts is one of our most cherished freedoms and part of what helps the Communist Our peace is strong.”
The decision is a victory for religious rights and is one of a series of cases in recent years in which judges have sided with religious plaintiffs. For example, last year, the court Rule the line of thought for a football coach who prayed on the field at his public high school after the games. And on Thursday, the court in a unanimous decision used the case of a Christian mail carrier who did not want to deliver Amazon packages on Sunday to strengthen worker protection those requesting religious accommodation.
The decision is also a withdrawal of gay rights for the court. For nearly three decades, courts have expanded LGBTQ rights, most notably by empowering same-sex couples. right to get married in 2015 And announced five years later in a decision written by Gorsuch that the landmark civil rights law also protects gays, lesbians and transgender people from discrimination in employment.
In its latest decision, however, Gorsuch said that the ruling against Smith would allow the government to “force all artists, speechwriters and others with speech-related services to say what they say they want.” do not believe because of punishment.” For example, a gay website designer might be forced to design a website for an organization that advocates for same-sex marriage, he writes. Countless other creative professionals can also be forced to choose between staying silent, making speech that violates their beliefs, or speaking their mind, and incurring penalties for doing so. So.”
The court’s liberal dissenting judges led by Judge Sonia Sotomayor warned that the decision would allow a range of businesses to discriminate.
“Today, the Court, for the first time in history, grants a business that is open to the public the constitutional right to refuse to serve members of the protected class,” Sotomayor wrote in the protest. starring Justice Elena Kagan and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Sotomayor, who read his summary of dissent in court to emphasize his disagreement, said the logic of the decision “cannot be limited to discrimination based on sexual orientation.” or gender identity.” She writes, a website designer may refuse to create a wedding website for an interracial couple, an office worker may refuse to sell birth notices to a disabled couple and a Large retailers may limit their portrait photography services to “traditional” families.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that the ruling was “disappointing,” adding that it “undermines longstanding laws that protect all Americans from discrimination at institutions.” public – including people of color, people with disabilities, people of faith, and women. “
Sotomayor addressed the court’s history with gay rights in his dissenting post, writing: “The LGBT rights movement has made historic strides and I’m proud of the role it plays. which this Court has recently closed in that history. Today, however, we are taking a step back.”
“Today is a sad day in US constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people. … the immediate, symbolic impact of the decision to categorize gays and lesbians as gays and lesbians. second-class status,” she wrote at another point.
However, even as it expanded gay rights, the court was careful to say that people with different religious views should be respected. The belief that marriage is possible only between one man and one woman is an idea that “has long been perpetuated — and continues to be perpetuated — by reasonable and sincere people here and around the world,” Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote in same-sex marriage court decision.
Five years ago, the court returned to that idea when a Christian baker objected to designing a cake for a same-sex wedding. Court issued a limited judgment in favor of the baker, Jack Phillips, said that there was unacceptable hostility towards his religious views when considering his case. Phillips’ attorney, Kristen Wagoner, of the Alliance for Defense of Freedom, also took the most recent case to court. On Friday she said Supreme Court right in reaffirming that the government cannot force people to say things they do not believe.
“Dissent is not discriminatory and the government cannot label speech discriminatory in order to censor it,” she said in a statement.
While relying on a legitimate victory, Smith was forced to answer questions about revealed this week that a man her legal team said requested a wedding website never asked to work with her.
The request from someone identified as “Stewart,” was not the basis for a federal lawsuit filed in advance by Smith before she began creating the wedding website, but it was filed by her attorneys. reference.
Stewart told the Associated Press that he never filed a request and didn’t know his name was invoked in the lawsuit until he was contacted this week by The New Republic, which first reported the divorce. his denial.
“I was extremely surprised to learn that I have been happily married to a woman for the past 15 years,” he said. He declined to give his last name for fear of harassment and intimidation. It was not included in court documents listing his phone number and email address.
Wagoner said the wedding request with Stewart’s name was sent through Smith’s website and denied it was fabricated. The lawyer suggested it could be a troll making the claim.
Smith, who owns a Colorado design business called 303 Creative, doesn’t currently create wedding websites. She has said she wants to but her Christian faith will prevent her from creating sites celebrating same-sex marriage. And that’s where she comes into conflict with state law.
Colorado, like most other states, has laws that prohibit businesses that are open to the public from discriminating against customers. And about half of the states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Colorado said that under so-called public accommodation laws, if Smith makes wedding websites available to the public, she must make them available to all guests, regardless of sexual orientation. Businesses that break the law can be fined, among other things. Smith argued that applying the law to her violated her First Amendment rights, and the Supreme Court agreed.
The case is 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, 21-476.