On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a major religious liberty case involving the intersection of creative professionals, anti-discrimination laws and same-sex marriage.
The issue involves a Colorado law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. Lorie Smith, a Christian web designer and the owner of 303 Creative, sued the state in 2016, asserting the law prohibits her from using her gifts to “celebrate and promote God’s design for marriage” as “an institution between one man and one woman.”
Under Colorado law, Smith must design websites promoting same-sex weddings if she designs websites promoting weddings between one man and one woman.
The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state last year in a 2-1 decision, ruling Smith must create websites for same-sex weddings under the law. Smith appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Monday, the high court said it would consider the case and limit it to one question: “Whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”
The case could impact a wide range of creative professionals, including cake designers and photographers.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Smith.
“The government doesn’t have the power to silence or compel creative expression under the threat of punishment. It’s shocking that the 10th Circuit would permit Colorado to punish artists whose speech isn’t in line with state-approved ideology,” said ADF general counsel Kristen Waggoner, Smith’s attorney. “Colorado has weaponized its law to silence speech it disagrees with, to compel speech it approves of, and to punish anyone who dares to dissent. Colorado’s law – and others like it – are a clear and present danger to every American’s constitutionally protected freedoms and the very existence of a diverse and free nation.”
Photo courtesy: ©Alliance Defending Freedom
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.