Arizona artists win suit over same-sex wedding invitations

Religion News Service | 9/17/2019 | Staff
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PHOENIX (AP) — The free speech rights of two Christian artists who make wedding invitations were violated by an anti-discrimination ordinance in Phoenix that makes it illegal to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 4-3 decision reversed lower-court rulings favoring the city.

State - Supreme - Court - Ruling - Creation

The state Supreme Court said its ruling is limited to only the creation of custom wedding invitations by Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski and isn’t a blanket exemption from the ordinance for all their business operations.

The artists, who believe a marriage should be between only a man and woman, had argued that the ordinance would violate their religious beliefs by forcing them to custom-make products for same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Court - City - Wedding - Invitations

The high court said the city can’t force them to make same-sex wedding invitations.

“Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,” the court majority wrote. “But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.”

Opinion - Court - Minority - Case - Concern

In the dissenting opinion, the court’s minority said the case doesn’t concern the content of custom wedding products but instead pertains to the identity of customers.

“Today’s decision is also deeply troubling because its reasoning cannot be limited to discrimination related to same-sex marriage or based on the beliefs of any one religion, but instead extends more broadly to other claims of a ‘right’ by businesses to deny services to disfavored customers,” the opinion states.

Majority - Ruling - City - Justices - Court

The majority ruling said the city and dissenting justices claimed that if the court were to dare to let the artists express their beliefs, “we, in essence, run the risk of resurrecting the Jim Crow laws of the Old South.”

Lawyers for the city are examining potential grounds for an appeal.

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Mayor Kate Gallego,...
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