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Arizona Supreme Court Rules Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

In a 4-3 vote the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Phoenix-based Brush & Nib Studio, a small business that refused to produce wedding invitations for a lesbian couple.

Justice Andrew Gould for the majority wrote:

“The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person’s home or church, or private conversations with like-minded friends and family. These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs. With these fundamental principles in mind, today we hold that the City of Phoenix … cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance … to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, LC (“Brush & Nib”), to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Adopted in 2013, City Code 18-4(B)(1)-(3) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. It applies to businesses offering services to the general public. But the state of Arizona itself has no such protections on it’s books as law.  And as we all know there are currently no federal protections against LGBT discrimination.

Alliance Defending Freedom which is designated as hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center represented the printers.

Koski and Duka spoke at Alliance Defending Freedom’s Scottsdale office in a press conference with lawyer Jonathan Scruggs.

“This is a win not just for Breanna Koski and me; it is a win for everyone,” calligrapher Joanna Duka said at a press conference in the Scottsdale office of Alliance Defending Freedom. “Everyone should be free to live and work according to their beliefs.”

The city of Arizona issued the following statement:  “The city of Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance is still a legal, valid law and remains in effect,” the city said in a statement after the ruling. “It currently affirms that everyone should be treated fairly and equally regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, sex, gender or disability.  The Arizona Supreme Court made a very narrow ruling that one local business has the right to refuse to make custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples’ weddings that are similar to the designer’s previous products. This ruling does not apply to any other business in Phoenix. The city of Phoenix has had an anti-discrimination ordinance since 1964 to protect all residents and believes that everyone should be treated equally

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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