A Christian web designer is fighting against a Colorado law that would force her to make websites for same-sex weddings, arguing that the law is a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech.
Earlier this year, in February, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Lorie Smith’s case. Smith, the founder of the graphic design firm 303 Creative LLC, had appealed to the high court after being narrowly ruled against in the 10th Circuit.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Smith argued that “it’s not right for the government to censor and coerce speech, simply because it doesn’t agree with my deeply held beliefs.”
The law Smith is fighting against is Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal for any business owner to deny access to their service on the basis of “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry.”
The Anti-Discrimination Act is the same law that was at play in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the 2018 Supreme Court case involving a religious cakeshop owner who declined to make a cake for a gay wedding. In that case, the court ruled in favor of the cakeshop owner, but made no decision about whether his work constituted “speech.”
That is what the court will decide in Smith’s upcoming web design case — whether her work, and that of similar creatives, should be classified as First Amendment-protected speech.
In the interview, Smith’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner, maintained that it should be.
“Lori makes decisions about what messages to create based on what the message says, what’s being expressed, not the person who’s requesting it,” Waggoner said. “And all artists should have that right.”
When the host pointed out that a message about a same-sex wedding is necessarily going to come from someone in the LGBT community, Waggoner fired back with a counter-example.
“Should a Democratic speechwriter have to write for Donald Trump?” she asked. “Or should an LGBT graphic designer have to create a website that would express the Catholic Church’s view of marriage?”
The Supreme Court is expected to hear Smith’s case later this year.