U.S. Supreme Court hears a case about a web designer’s anti-gay marriage stance
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a major case pitting LGBT rights against a claim that the constitutional right to free speech exempts artists from anti-discrimination laws. An evangelical Christian web designer refuses to provide her services to same-sex couples.
The justices are set to hear Denver-area business owner Lorie Smith’s appeal seeking an exemption from a Colorado law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and other factors. The Lower courts ruled in favor of Colorado in 2021, including the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, A 38-year-old web designer claims Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act violates the First Amendment’s right to free speech by requiring him to express messages that he opposes through his work.
The case follows the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in 2018 in favor of Jack Phillips, a Christian Denver-area baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple based on religious grounds. In that case, the court did not grant free speech exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.
Like Phillips, Smith is represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative religious rights group. As a result, the Supreme Court focused on free speech rather than one aspect of her challenge to Colorado law based on religious rights also protected by the First Amendment.
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Many legal scholars, including those from Colorado, have warned that supporting Smith’s free speech arguments could result in widespread discrimination against LGBT people.
The state wrote in a legal brief to the Supreme Court that “it would encompass not just a business’ objections to serving certain customers based on sincerely held religious beliefs, but also objections based on ignorance, whims, bigotry, caprice and more – including pure expressions of racial, sexist or anti-religious hatred.”
There are many states that have laws banning discrimination in public accommodations, including housing, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and educational institutions, Its current law prohibits businesses open to the public from discriminating against customers on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and certain other characteristics, as well as from displaying notices to that effect.
While it has backed LGBT rights in other cases, U.S. Supreme Court conservative majority has become increasingly supportive of religious rights and related free speech claims in recent years. In 2015, the court legalized gay marriage nationwide, and in 2020, it expanded federal protections for LGBT workers.
However, in recent years, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority has become increasingly supportive of religious rights and free speech claims despite defending LGBT rights in other cases. In 2015, the court legalized gay marriage nationwide, and in 2020, it expanded federal protections for LGBT workers, A ruling in Smith’s case is expected by the end of June, similar legal battles have been waged in other states by wedding photographers and calligraphers.