A website designer in Colorado who didn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples has lost again in their lawsuit intended to challenge the state’s anti-discrimination law.
A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court ruling against Lorie Smith who had requested an exemption from the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). Smith had asked for her company, 303 Creative LLC, to be allowed to refuse website design services to same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.
Smith also wished to include a statement on the website for her business announcing she would not serve same-sex couples.
The virulently anti-LGBTQ legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented Smith, argued that following the state’s public accommodation laws would violate her “religious freedoms.”
But, in the 2-1 ruling, the appellate court held that Colorado had a “compelling interest in protecting the ‘dignity interests’ of members of marginalized groups through its law,” according to AP News.
It’s worth noting that no same-sex couple had approached the website design company to create a site for a wedding. The case was filed as a “preemptive strike” with the sole purpose of challenging the state’s anti-discrimination law.
ADF has represented several similar cases across the country. Those include infamous anti-LGBTQ Colorado baker Jack Phillips, Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman, and Phoenix-based wedding invitation company Brush & Nib.
Their ultimate goal is to get the issue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court where they hope the conservative majority will rule against LGBTQ rights.
In 2019, ADF represented two Christian videographers in Minnesota who refused to make wedding videos for same-sex weddings. A divided 3-judge panel at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found in their favor.
Now that there’s a split on the issue between appeals courts, look for a case to land at SCOTUS sooner than later.
Jennifer C. Pizer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal, issued the following statement after today’s ruling.
“This is a tremendous ruling that properly situates our cherished freedoms of speech and religion among the important rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, while also understanding that the State of Colorado has a compelling interest and responsibility to end discrimination in the commercial sphere.
“As we explained in our friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, this really isn’t about cake or websites or flowers. It’s about protecting LGBTQ people and their families from being subjected to slammed doors, service refusals, and public humiliation in countless places – from fertility clinics to funeral homes, and everywhere in between.”