A conservative legal group representing two local wedding invitation designers isn’t ready to give up on overturning a Phoenix law that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination
On Monday, Alliance Defending Freedom appealed a June Arizona Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed the constitutionality of the Phoenix law.
Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom represents Brush & Nib Studio, owned by Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski. The women, self-described evangelical Christians, design invitations and handmade artwork for weddings and events.
The artists — who hold the religious belief that marriage should only be between one man and one woman — do not want to design invitations or other custom artwork for LGBT couples because they believe it would be the equivalent of endorsing their marriage.
But Phoenix’s nondiscrimination ordinance — which was expanded to protect against sexual orientation and gender identity bias in 2013 — does not allow them to turn away LGBT customers.
So in 2016 — although no LGBT couples had requested their services — the women sued Phoenix, arguing that the ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution’s Free Speech Clause and the state’s Free Exercise of Religion Act.
So far, they’ve had no success in the courtroom.
But a U.S. Supreme Court decision on a similar case last month reinvigorated their view and prompted them to keep fighting — this time in the state’s highest court.
During oral arguments before the Arizona Court of Appeals in April, Jonathan Scruggs of Alliance Defending Freedom said Duka and Koski would have no problem selling premade artwork to LGBT customers, they just “won’t promote same-sex marriage” by designing custom wedding materials for their nuptials.
Writing the names of two men or two women on an invitation, or producing specialized artwork for the express purpose of a wedding for a same-sex couple would be the same as endorsing the wedding, Scruggs said. Forcing the artists to make these products would be “compelled speech” and illegal, he said.
He said the women’s actions are not discriminatory because their decision not to serve LGBT customers is based on the message they’re being asked to create, not the sexual orientation of the individual requesting the services.
Read the full story at AZ Central