Same-sex marriage battle continues in Supreme Court with challenge from website designer – Boston News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) – The supreme court will revisit the intersection of LGBTQ rights and religious freedom on Monday when it takes up the case of a graphic designer who wants to start a website business to celebrate weddings – but doesn’t want to work with same-sex couples.

The case comes as supporters of LGBTQ rights fear the conservative 6-3 majority fresh from their decision to do so turning back a nearly 50-year-old precedent for abortion — may have set out to definitively reverse a landmark opinion from 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges This paved the way for same-sex marriage nationwide.

The house this week is expected to happen Bill requiring states to recognize the legal marriage of another state if Obergefell were ever repealed. The bill would then go to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign.

“I’m concerned,” Mary Bonauto, lead attorney for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in an interview with CNN. “I’m just concerned because the court seems to keep picking up cases and literally changing existing law.”

Judge Clarence Thomas, for example, when Roe v. Wade was lifted, expressly asked the court to reconsider it upper skin.

On one side of the argument is designer Lorie Smith, whose shop is called 303 Creative. She says she hasn’t moved forward with an expansion into wedding websites because of concerns about violating a Colorado public accommodations law. She says the law forces her to speak messages that are inconsistent with her beliefs. The state and LGBTQ rights advocates counter that Smith is simply seeking a license to discriminate in the marketplace.

Four years ago, the court heard a similar case involving a Colorado baker who, citing religious objections, refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

That 7-2 rule in favor of the baker, but in this case was bound to specific circumstances and did not apply generally to similar disputes across the country. Now the judges are taking a fresh look at the same state anti-discrimination law. By law, a company cannot refuse to serve people because of their sexual orientation.

Smith says she is willing to work with all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, but refuses to create websites celebrating same-sex marriage.

“The state of Colorado compels me to create custom, one-of-a-kind artworks that convey and celebrate a different view of marriage, a view of marriage that goes against my deeply held beliefs,” Smith said in an interview with CNN.

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in February, the judges evaded whether the statute violated Smith’s freedom of religion. Instead, the court said it will look at the dispute through the lens of free speech and determine whether using the Public Accommodations Act “to compel an artist to speak or remain silent” violates the First Amendment clause on free speech.

In court filings, Smith’s attorney Kristen K. Waggoner said the law is designed to “enforce speech the government prefers and to silence speech the government does not like,” in violation of the First Amendment. She said the state could interpret its law to allow speakers “who serve all people to reject certain projects based on their message,” such a move, she claimed, would stop status discrimination “without forcing the speech.” or to suppress”.

Twenty states have come out in favor of Smith in court filings. They say they have public housing laws on the books, but their laws exempt the businessmen who make a living creating custom art.

Smith says she wrote a website explaining that her decision was based on her belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But she hasn’t released the statement yet because she fears violating the law’s “publicity clause,” which prohibits a company from publishing communications suggesting that a public accommodation service is being denied on the basis of sexual orientation, Waggoner claims in court papers.

Smith lost her case in the lower court. the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals held that a variety of beliefs and religious practices “enrich our society”, but the state has a compelling interest in “protecting its citizens from the consequences of discrimination”.

Conservatives on the current court will surely study the dissent written by Judge Timothy Tymovich.

“The majority,” he wrote, “takes the remarkable — and novel — stance that the government could force Ms. Smith to produce messages that offend her conscience.”

“Finally,” he concluded, “the government could regulate the messages communicated by all artists.”

Colorado Attorney General Eric Olson argued in court filings that the law does not regulate or coerce speech. Instead, he said, it regulates business conduct to ensure all customers, regardless of religion, race, disability or other characteristics, have an opportunity to participate in day-to-day business dealings.

He said the law protects clients’ “equal access and dignity” and that when Smith tries to issue a statement announcing why she doesn’t create wedding websites for same-sex couples, it means “white applicants only.” -Shield equals.

He added that the law is not intended to quash any message Smith wants to express. Instead, 303 Creative is free to choose which design services to offer and whether to communicate its vision of marriage through biblical quotations on its wedding websites. But crucially, the law requires the company to sell any product or service it offers to anyone.

Bonauto also warned of a wrong track.

“Will you have the evangelical baker who won’t bake a First Communion cake?” said Bonauto. “Would you like to have the school photographer who has his business but doesn’t want to photograph certain children?”

Twenty-two other states support Colorado and have similar laws.

Biden’s Department of Justice, which will participate in hearings, supports Colorado, emphasizing that the public housing laws “guarantee equal access to the nation’s economy by ensuring that all Americans have access to whatever products and services they choose.” offered to other members of the public on the same terms as they can acquire.”

A decision on the case is expected by July.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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