The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a website designer who does not want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples.
303 Creative LLC v. Elenis will be heard in the court’s October 2022 term.
Lorie Smith, who owns the web design company, has said that she will accept clients who are homosexual but that designing wedding websites celebrating same-sex unions would go against her 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,” according to the petition that Alliance Defending Freedom filed with the high court. “Lorie respectfully refers such requests to other website designers.”
The New York Times explained that Colorado law forbids discrimination against homosexuals by businesses open to the public, as well as statements announcing such discrimination. “Ms. Smith, who has not begun the wedding business or posted the proposed statement for fear of running afoul of the law, sued to challenge it, saying it violated her rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion,” the Times said.
The Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the Colorado law because, the court said, it prohibits speech that would support unlawful activity, which includes unlawful discrimination.
The court’s chief judge, Timothy M. Tymkovich, dissented, saying “the majority takes the remarkable — and novel — stance that the government may force Ms. Smith to produce messages that violate her conscience. It seems we have moved from ‘live and let live’ to ‘you can’t say that.’”
Kristen Waggoner, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, said that Colorado’s anti-discrimination law violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. “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,” she said in a statement.