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In Another 6-3 Religious Freedom Win, Supreme Court Sides With Web Designer Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage…

Smith told CNA in December 2022: “I serve everyone, including those who identify as LGBT. I love to custom create and will work with anyone — there are simply some messages I can’t create regardless of who asks me.” She said her case is about freedom of speech for all artists. 

“After I started my own design studio, I wanted to expand my portfolio to custom-create art and websites to tell stories about weddings, but Colorado made it clear I wasn’t welcome in that space.”

She said she challenged the law because she didn’t want “to be punished for saying what I believe.”

“Colorado officials are censoring my speech and forcing me to speak messages about marriage that are inconsistent with my beliefs — the core of who I am.”

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was among the groups that filed amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Smith.

In July 2021, A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled against Smith 2-1, stating that Colorado had an interest in combating discrimination.

The panel agreed that the Colorado law forced Smith to create websites and speech that she “would otherwise refuse” and created a “substantial risk” of removing “certain ideas or viewpoints from the public dialogue,” including Smith’s beliefs about marriage. However, it ruled in favor of the law, in part on the grounds that she creates “custom and unique” expressions.

The 303 Creative case challenged the same Colorado law that brought Lakewood, Colorado, baker Jack Phillips and his business Masterpiece Cakeshop to the U.S. Supreme Court after he declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding.

After the couple filed a complaint, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Phillips and his staff to undergo anti-discrimination training and to submit quarterly reports on how he is changing company policies. He had to cease making wedding cakes to continue operating his business according to his conscience while not running afoul of the law.

He filed a challenge to the law, also assisted by Alliance Defending Freedom. In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated Phillips’ rights. Its 7-2 opinion said the commission “showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”

Phillips is now challenging a lawsuit from an attorney who identifies as a transgender woman and says that Phillips illegally refused to bake a cake celebrating the attorney’s purported gender transition. The cake’s design was pink with blue frosting.

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In January, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled against Phillips’ challenge. The court said the cake design was not inherently expressive of an explicit message that could be attributed to the baker. It said the anti-discrimination law does not violate business owners’ right to practice or express their religion.

Phillips said his cakes are a form of speech and plans to appeal.

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