Supreme Court To Hear Case Of Web Company That Refuses To Work On Gay Weddings
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from a Colorado web designer who declined to provide service for weddings celebrating same-sex couples.
The case will take on the debate on how to balance religious freedom and laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
This case is similar to a 2017 Supreme Court case dealing with another Colorado business, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The high court ruled 7-2, in favor of the baker who declined to bake a cake for same-sex marriages because it went against his religious beliefs. While the court overturned a previous decision, the ruling didn’t lead to a definitive solution.
303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, No. 21-476 will be heard by the court next October when the new term begins. The owner of the design company, Lorie Smith, said that she and her business are willing to serve the LGBT community, but that they will only provide their services for heterosexual marriages, citing religious convictions.
“She cannot create websites that promote messages contrary to her faith, such as messages that condone violence or promote sexual immorality, abortion or same-sex marriage,” Smith’s lawyers told the justices. “Lorie respectfully refers such requests to other website designers.”
Colorado Senior Judge Mary Beck Briscoe argued that Smith declining to serve clients fell under discrimination because they couldn’t get the same quality of service elsewhere. Smith will challenge a Colorado anti-discrimination law that blocks businesses from making statements or declining services if their business is open to the public.
It would “relegate LGBT consumers to an inferior market,” she said.
While Smith’s case is based mainly on religious rights, the Supreme Court wants to hear more about how it violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.