Christian graphic designer wins right to refuse to work on gay weddings

Christian graphic designer wins right to refuse to work on gay weddings

Lorie Smith, a business owner in Colorado, has won a Supreme Court case which will protect her against prosecution if she refuses to work on anything which promotes gay marriage.

The Christian graphic designer took action after her state introduced its Anti-Discrimination Act which includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

Smith, who runs the design agency 303 Creative, was concerned it could lead to her facing legal action if she were to refuse to create materials for a gay wedding or anything which promoted gay marriage.

Supported by legal charity Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), she took her case to the USA's highest court and claimed victory on Friday with judges ruling 6-3 in her favour.

Announcing the ruling, Judge Neil Gorsuch said: "As this court has long held, the opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our republic strong.

“Of course, abiding by the Constitution’s commitment to the freedom of speech means all of us will encounter ideas we consider ‘unattractive,’ ‘misguided,’ or even ‘hurtful,’ but tolerance, not coercion, is our nation’s answer.

"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.”

The ruling brings to an end seven years of legal action which started with Smith failing in her bid to sue Colorado.

“This is a win for all Americans,” ADF CEO, President, and General Counsel Kristen Waggoner said. “The government should no more censor Lorie for speaking consistent with her beliefs about marriage than it should punish an LGBT graphic designer for declining to criticize same-sex marriage. If we desire freedom for ourselves, we must defend it for others.”

“The US Supreme Court rightly reaffirmed that the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe. The court reiterated that it’s unconstitutional for the state to eliminate from the public square ideas it dislikes, including the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife.”

It's hoped the case will prevent other Christian business owners from facing action for refusing business requests which go against their faith.

In recent years ADF have fought similar cases such as Jack Phillips who refused to make a gay wedding cake and Barronelle Stutzman who refused to create flower decorations for a gay wedding.

In the UK, Ashers Bakery won their fight at the Supreme Court after they refused to make a cake with the words 'support gay marriage' on it.