Attorneys representing a Christian website designer and graphic artist filed an appeal Friday against a Colorado law that could force her to promote messages about same-sex marriage that conflict with her religious beliefs.
The case dates back to 2016 when Alliance Defending Freedom sued the state over its application of an anti-discrimination law – the same law involving Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, whose case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Phillips won.
The latest case involves web designer and graphic artist Lorie Smith and her studio, 303 Creative. Although Smith serves all customers, including LGBT ones, she says her faith prevents her from designing websites or graphics promoting same-sex marriage.
A district court ruled against Smith. ADF appealed Friday to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Creative professionals should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of coercion, discrimination, or intimidation by the state,” said ADF senior counsel Kate Anderson. “Just because a multimedia artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean the government can require her to express all viewpoints, especially when that forced expression violates her religious convictions.”
Smith’s business website acknowledges her faith.
“As a Christian who believes that God gave me the creative gifts that are expressed through this business, I have always strived to honor Him in how I operate it,” her website says. “... Because of my faith, however, I am selective about the messages that I create or promote – while I will serve anyone I am always careful to avoid communicating ideas or messages, or promoting events, products, services, or organizations, that are inconsistent with my religious beliefs.”
The original 2016 complaint says Smith believes “God is calling her to promote and celebrate His design for marriage by designing and creating custom wedding websites for weddings between one man and one woman only.”
But Colorado law says if Smith’s company designs “websites celebrating and promoting marriages between one man and one woman,” it also must “willingly design, create, and publish wedding websites celebrating and promoting same-sex marriages,” the complaint says.
The law, the complaint alleges, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Free Speech Clause, Free Exercise Clause, Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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