Having to serve same-sex couple: Is CO web designer right it's a violation of free speech?

Alliance Defending Freedom

Fact Box

  • In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Tenth Circuit decided that web designer Lorie Smith could be forced to “convey messages that violate her religious beliefs and restrict her from explaining her faith” and create websites celebrating same-sex marriage. 
  • Smith responded to claimed “discrimination” against her case, asserting “I work with all people and I have worked with all people including those who identify as LGBT. [...] I’m unable to promote all messages. And to take it a step further and to clarify, Colorado and the Tenth Circuit Court say they agree that I work with all people.” 
  • The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) “guarantees equal access to public accommodations, housing, and employment regardless of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation (including transgender status), marital status, family status, religion, national origin, or ancestry.”
  • The First Amendment of the US Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Andrew (No)

303 Creative web-designer, Lorie Smith, claims serving same-sex couples violates her right to free speech. This, however, is not a valid viewpoint—one that many believe stems from bigoted and discriminatory views. What speech of Smith's is being suppressed? She feels she should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals for the way they are, and in America, that simply isn't allowed

Whether free speech is violated, as Smith claims, by having to serve same-sex couples has already been settled in the Supreme Court via the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, in which the court ruled the baker could not discriminate against same-sex couples. In writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy affirmed that 'gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.' The narrow ruling, in this case, has led conservative groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom to try similar cases in other states such as Kentucky and Washington, all of which have failed. The courts have sided with the anti-discrimination sides, and it is simply time for conservatives to move on from this issue. 

Finally, court documents show this appeal for judicial relief is a contrived and unnecessary political stunt designed to make waves in the culture wars as 303 Creative didn't even make wedding websites at the time of the suit's filing. Lorie Smith and 303 Creative are wrong to use everyday couples as pawns in their attempt to bring back legal versions of bigotry. No gay couples have asked the designer to make any websites; 303 Creative should just stay out of the wedding business if they can't handle all types of love.

Ethan (Yes) 

Demands are not 'rights.' America's founding documents enshrine rights as natural and 'unalienable,’ coexisting without contradiction. If one ‘right’ seemingly conflicts with another, one of those right claims is false. America's Constitution protects a citizens' right to freedom of speech and religious liberty and rightfully applies to 303 Creative's Lorie Smith. 

Freedom of association—the same right gay marriage hinges upon—should apply to all Americans, not just some. Smith retains the right as an American citizen and business to promote the messages she believes in and disassociate from messages she does not. Any same-sex couple who wants a website designed for their wedding is welcome to seek the work of another designer or create their own. Smith has even offered to refer same-sex couples to alternative designers. But there is no ‘right’ to another’s creative work. Even if that right existed, it isn't being taken away if a person or business declines to provide a service to them. However, on Smith’s side, many Constitutional rights are at risk. Creative expression is a form of speech. If one’s speech, services, and association is legally compelled to promote things that directly conflict with one's religious beliefs, then these freedoms are gone. 

Advocates for Colorado's unconstitutional 'anti-discrimination' law essentially favor government compelling “creative expression under the threat of punishment” of people who hold religious or conscious views different from the LGBTQ lobby. Smith has explicitly stated she is not opposed to working 'with all people including those who identify as LGBT' but cannot 'promote all messages.' She simply wants to retain the freedom to choose the message her business sends—one that is influenced by the clients and projects she takes on. Upholding a law forcing Smith to use her creative expression as an artist to send a message she doesn't believe in is wholly un-American.

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