The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman who has never designed a wedding website – but doesn’t want to design one for a same-sex couple in the future – won’t have to.
In its ruling, 303 Creative v. Elenis, the high court decided the designer has a First Amendment right to refuse services for same-sex marriages even though the state of Colorado, where the woman lives and works, has laws prohibiting such discrimination against gay people.
Breaking News: The Supreme Court said a designer in Colorado had a First Amendment right to refuse to create websites for same-sex weddings despite a state law that forbids discrimination against gay people.https://t.co/AkWGfSykMu pic.twitter.com/gBLGsRnWwv
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 30, 2023
The woman, Lorie Smith, was represented by the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who has worked against civil rights for queer people for years calling such protections a form of religious discrimination against Christians.
The Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes ADF as an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group.
From the New York Times:
In a 6 to 3 vote, split along ideological lines, the court held that the First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion.
The decision also appeared to suggest that the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people, including to same-sex marriage, are on more vulnerable legal footing, particularly when they are at odds with claims of religious freedom. At the same time, the ruling limited the ability of the governments to enforce anti-discrimination laws.
The designer, Lorie Smith, said her Christian faith requires her to turn away customers seeking wedding-related services to celebrate same-sex unions. She added that she intends to post a message saying the company’s policy is a product of her religious convictions.
In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor underscored her view that prohibiting businesses from discriminating against gay people is a regulation of conduct, not speech.
“Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people,” Sotomayor wrote. “The immediate, symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.”
You can totally expect today’s ruling to be used to erode state non-discrimination laws across the country.
The Supreme Court just made this legal for "creative professions" to put up on their windows in 303 Creative. pic.twitter.com/Szygf4UcRZ
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) June 30, 2023
The Supreme Court has ruled 6-3 in favor of a Colorado web designer’s crusade to make exemptions from anti-discrimination laws so that she can refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. https://t.co/0Meyb8GxGF
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) June 30, 2023
Also, from The New Republic:
There is no client Smith has told she is rejecting due to her stated religious beliefs that marriage is only allowed between one man and one woman.
In the absence of all that, ADF has, instead, fashioned Smith as the victim of an injury that has never occurred.
The group has a $76 million annual budget and thousands of attorneys in its network.
Let's be clear: nothing happened to the plaintiff in 303 Creative, the whole "case" was a hypothetical exercise, and the GOP Justices used it as a vehicle to undermine every single federal, state, county, and city anti-discrimination law in the country. https://t.co/LTgg9LRBwY
— Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly) June 30, 2023
The thing that sucks most about the 303 Creative decision is that Smith's case is entirely a fiction. The entire question is based on a business she doesn't have being asked to do something they weren't.
It never should have seen a state court, much less SCOTUS
— Chris supports workers over management (@cokes311) June 30, 2023
HOW? The question will be asked thousands of times today & for years going forward: How can a made up business with a made up scenario take a made up case all the way to the US Supreme Court? As a lawyer, former lawmaker and LGBTQ+ advocate the answer is: A corrupt Supreme Court! pic.twitter.com/g95cQtCcEX
— Brian Sims 🌈 (@BrianSimsPA) June 30, 2023
BREAKING: In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has issued a ruling in 303 Creative undermining non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people and other marginalized communities.
This is a dangerous step backward and gives some businesses the license to discriminate. pic.twitter.com/vQ5YNdAJDI
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) June 30, 2023
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday siding with a web designer opposed to same-sex marriage was “profoundly wrong.” In a scathing dissent, Sotomayor said the ruling will “mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.” https://t.co/jJFmAdb9RX pic.twitter.com/fV4NpYtTve
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 30, 2023