US Supreme Court backs businesses refusing same-sex couples


Lorie Smith after Supreme Court ruling
Image: Alliance Defending Freedom

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a Christian graphic designer who argued for a religious exemption allowing her to refuse to serve same-sex couples.

Lorie Smith, an evangelical Christian from Colorado, argued she couldn’t design websites for same-sex couples because of her Christian faith.

Colorado state law bans businesses open to the public from refusing service on the basis of sexual orientation.

But the new Supreme Court ruling hands Smith a First Amendment free speech exemption stopping Colorado from compelling her to create designs she disagrees with.

All six conservative justices sided with the designer. The US Supreme Court’s three liberals dissented.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the three dissenting justices, said, “Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.

“There has been a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities.

“New forms of inclusion have been met with reactionary exclusion. This is heartbreaking.

“Today, the court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.

“The immediate, symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.

She said the ruling itself “inflicts a kind of stigmatic harm” beyond denial of service. Sotomayor also warned the ruling’s underpinning argument could extend beyond sexual orientation, to other attributes.

Bizarre twist in gay wedding website lawsuit

Lorie Smith’s case was funded by the anti-LGBTQIA+ group Alliance Defending Freedom. But it’s not clear if the customer request she received was legitimate.

In a bizarre twist, the man named in the Supreme Court’s ruling denies he requested a same-sex wedding website from Smith.

He told the New Republic he is happily married to a woman and didn’t know he was listed in the lawsuit.

Nonetheless, US President Joe Biden slammed the Supreme Court’s ruling. Biden said he fears it could weaken laws and invite more discrimination.

“In America, no person should face discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love,” Biden said.

Vice President Kamala Harris also added, “On the last day of Pride Month, the Supreme Court has paved the way for businesses across our nation to discriminate in the name of ‘free expression’ — against the LGBTQI+ community, racial and religious minorities, the disability community, and women.

“At a time when we celebrate hard-won advancements in LGBTQI+ rights, this decision threatens future progress.

“President Biden and I will continue to rigorously enforce federal anti-discrimination protections and fight for the right of all people to participate equally in our society.

“And as a crucial part of that fight, we continue to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act.”

‘A dangerous step backwards’

The Human Rights Campaign said the “unprecedented” ruling “will have sweeping and harmful impacts on the LGBTQI+ community and is a dangerous step backwards”.

“Our nation has been on a path of progress – deciding over the course of many decades that businesses should be open regardless of race, disability or religion,” HRC president Kelley Robinson said.

“People deserve to have commercial spaces that are safe and welcoming.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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