The United States Supreme Court said Tuesday it will hear the case of a Colorado web designer who refuses to build websites for same-sex couples citing her religious beliefs.
Colorado web designer Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, LLC, preemptively filed a lawsuit challenging the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act to place a disclaimer on her website stating her reasons for refusing service to same-sex couples in violation of her religious beliefs, The Hill reported Tuesday.
The proposed disclaimer, "I will not be able to create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman. Doing that would compromise my Christian witness and tell a story about marriage that contradicts God's true story of marriage — the very story He is calling me to promote," would violate the accommodation provisions of the state law, which says, "any place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to the public" may not "directly or indirectly ... refuse ... to an individual or a group, because of ... sexual orientation ... the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit voted 2-1 against Smith in July, with the single dissenting judge writing that the decision was "unprecedented."
"We must presume Ms. Smith wants to live and speak by her faith, not discriminate against any particular group or person. We must presume she has reached her beliefs 'based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises'," Chief Circuit Court Judge Timothy Tymkovich wrote in dissent. "And we must presume that her beliefs are anything but trivial. So, it is in protecting the right to hold these beliefs that we understand the true resilience of the First Amendment.
"The freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."
The majority, however, while agreeing with Tymkovich about protecting minority viewpoints, the court had to consider the "harm" being done to those refused service.
"We agree with the dissent that 'the protection of minority viewpoints is not only essential to protecting speech and self-governance but also a good in and of itself,'" the majority concluded. "Yet, we must also consider the grave harms caused when public accommodations discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Combatting such discrimination is, like individual autonomy, 'essential' to our democratic ideals."
The high court is expected to hear arguments on the case in its next term, The Hill reported.
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