Can a Web Designer Be Forced To Make Gay Wedding Pages? The Supreme Court Will Decide
The Supreme Court will finally be tackling the question of whether a public accommodation law can compel a business owner to produce messages that violate their personal beliefs as part of anti-discrimination protections.
Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis. Lorie Smith owns and runs 303 Creative, a graphic website design firm based in Colorado. Smith planned to design and host sites for weddings, but she has religious objections to same-sex marriage and does not want to be forced to design and host sites for such weddings. This puts her at odds with Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination against LGBT customers.
Smith counters that she isn’t refusing to serve LGBT customers, but 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 her petition to the Supreme Court. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has taken the side of the Colorado Civil Rights Division and ruled that the law was being neutrally applied and not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. Colorado could legally require Smith to design and host sites for gay weddings and could furthermore prohibit her from putting a message on her website stating that she would not due to her religious beliefs.
This case flows out of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It’s even from the same state. The Masterpiece Cakeshop case revolved around whether a baker could be forced to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Court ruled in the bakery’s favor but actually punted on the central free speech question. The Court ruled that the commission had not neutrally applied the law, and commissioners had made statements indicating they had a bias against Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ Christian beliefs.
Similarly, in a more recent case, Fulton v. Philadelphia, about whether a Catholic adoption agency could discriminate against gay cou
Article from Reason.com