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
Georgia Senate Republicans have introduced the 2019 version of a bill they’ve entitled “The Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.” Republicans say the bill is necessary to protect people whose religious beliefs come into conflict with other viewpoints.
Republican state Sen. Marty Harbin of Tyrone said Thursday his proposal was drafted to mirror the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993 . But of course it doesn’t.
Georgia Equality, said in a news release that Harbin’s legislation “would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers, among others, and would grant taxpayer-funded agencies a broad license to discriminate against LGBT youth, families, and other Georgians.”
House Speaker and fellow Republican David Ralston in January said he was concerned a Georgia version of the federal law “has a real potential to divide us as a state.”
“It’s a much different world than it was in 1993,” Ralston said. He also said he believed the proposals were a “solution in search of a problem.”
“I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Deal said at the time.
In 2016 when Georgia introduced a similar LGBT discrimination bill companies like Coca-Cola, The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios, Salesforce.com and the NFL all came out against it and threatened to boycott the state.
In another move of the Trump administration’s coordinated attack on the LGBT community. Sam Brownback, the vehemently anti-gay and beleaguered governor of Kansas whose aggressively conservative fiscal polices and anti-lgbt rhetoric have turned many in Washington against him, will be nominated to serve as ambassador at large for international religious freedom, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Twitter, Mr. Brownback wrote on Wednesday: “Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause.”
In the ambassadorship, Mr. Brownback would lead the Office of International Religious Freedom, which is under the umbrella of the State Department and charged with promoting religious freedom as a foreign policy objective.
Brownback will leave Kansas at a time of uncertainty over funding for public education.
“He leaves behind a legacy of failed leadership,” said State Representative Melissa Rooker, a moderate Republican who has frequently opposed Mr. Brownback’s policies.
In 2015 Brownback rescinded rules in Kansas that had protected state workers from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. In 2016 Brownback also signed into law an anti-gay “religious liberty” bill SB 175 on that is tantamount to a legislative attack on LGBT college students and issued an unnecessary and insulting executive order in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. “protecting” clergy from being from performing or recognizing gay marriages.
Representative Jim Ward, the Democratic leader in the Kansas House, said he was “not surprised” to hear of the appointment, which has been rumored in Topeka for months.
“I’m not going to miss him,” Mr. Ward said. “He has left a state in carnage and destruction.”
A divided 3-1 Kentucky appeals court panel ruled Friday that a Lexington business did not discriminate against an organization by refusing to print T-shirts for a gay rights festival.
Chief Judge Joy Kramer wrote in her opinion that the city’s ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation does not prohibit the owners of Hands On Originals from “engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.” Kramer said the business objected to the message of gay pride, not anyone’s sexual orientation.
“Thus, although the menu of services HOO provides to the public is accordingly limited, and censors certain points of view, it is the same limited menu HOO offers to every customer and is not, therefore, prohibited by the fairness ordinance,” the ruling states.
Judge Jeff Taylor dissented, saying he thought the business did discriminate against the organization since its decision was “based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.”
He also said creating the rainbow-themed shirts would not have really violated Mr. Adamson’s religious beliefs.
“For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, a rainbow was a symbol of peace; others view rainbows as symbolic of love, life, hope, promise, or even transformation,” Judge Taylor wrote. “Even the Bible provides that a rainbow is a sign from God.”
Taylor also argued the majority opinion takes the teeth out of the ordinance by making it effective only to the extent that gays and lesbians do not publicly display their sexual orientation.
Blaine Adamson , owner of Hands On Originals told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he would not object to printing shirts for gays or lesbians as long as the message didn’t promote homosexuality.
“I don’t leave my faith at the door when I walk into my business,” Adamson said. “In my case, fortunately, the legal system worked.”
It’s now up to the Human Rights Commission to decide whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has announced this week that he will reintroduce the discriminatory anti-LGBT First Amendment Defense Act to the republican controlled House of Representatives for a vote.
FADA would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities (church, privately owned businesses and individuals) to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
FADA was first filed in the House and Senate in 2015, but was met with protests from Democrats and resulted in just one House hearing amid concerns that Obama would veto the bill. It is currently co-sponsored by 171 House Republicans and just one Democrat (Daniel Lipinski of Illinois.)
Jennifer Pizer, Law and Policy Director at Lambda Legal, states that the FADA “invites widespread, devastating discrimination against LGBT people” and is a deeply unconstitutional bill.
“This proposed new law violates both Equal Protection and the Establishment Clause by elevating one set of religious beliefs above all others,” Pizer said, “And by targeting LGBT Americans as a group, contrary to settled constitutional law.”
The law would also prevent the government from penalizing or attempting to deny special tax incentives and credits to those who discriminate against LGBT people.
Donald Trump promised to sign FADA into law during his presidential campaign.
Despite many recent setbacks tahat KKK-affiliated hate group leader Tony Perkins has had in the past he is now having a ball over all the backwards GOP states like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Mississippi that are passing or trying to pass Anti-LGBT “Right to Discriminate” laws.
“Lawmakers should be very encouraged by the overwhelming, bipartisan support among Mississippi voters for legislation that ensures the government does not discriminate against individuals and organizations because of their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Mississippians of all ages and political persuasions agree with state leaders that no one should be punished by the government with crippling fines simply for believing what President Obama believed just a few years ago. Big business and Hollywood have engaged in economic blackmail in Mississippi just like they have in states like Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.
However, unlike Indiana and Georgia, leaders in Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas have shown that when a strong majority of legislators stand up for the freedom to believe and the freedom to live according to those beliefs, the threats of big business prove empty. Now we know where the voters in Mississippi stand, and we stand with them. Long-term, political leaders who refuse to sacrifice fundamental freedoms under the threats of big business and big entertainment are rewarded with support of voters as their states find such policies lead to stronger economies, stronger communities and stronger families.” – Tony Perkins via press release.
Perkins also responded to a poll (a very circumspect poll) that was released that stated that Mississippians’ overwhelmingly supported the anti-gay law.
A new poll of registered Mississippi voters shows significant support for a bill moving through the state legislature that ensures the government does not discriminate against individuals and organizations because of their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
According to the poll, conducted this week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, 63 percent of Mississippians support such a law. Every segment of the population identified in the poll – by race, age, sex, and political party – expressed support.
“These poll results confirm the broad and diverse support HB 1523 has across the state,” said Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, which released the poll.
“Mississippians understand that religious freedom is the most basic and important of all our freedoms,” said Thigpen. “HB 1523 is narrowly focused to protect sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage being a one-man/one-woman relationship.”
The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is a conservative think tank in Jackson, Mississippi and its mission is to “promote and protect the concepts of free markets, limited government, and strong traditional families.”
It was formerly known as Mississippi Family Council.
Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal has denounced a proposed ‘religious freedom’ bill that would give religious organizations and individuals the right to discriminate against LGBT individuals in The Peach State and suffer no ramifications.
Said Deal on Thursday, “I don’t think we have to have anything that allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith.”
Deal also said he would not sign the bill as it currently stands without major modifications.
“I know that there are a lot of Georgians who feel like this is a necessary step for us to take. I would hope that in the process of these last few days, we can keep in mind the concerns of the faith-based community, which I believe can be protected without setting up the situation where we could be accused of allowing or encouraging discrimination.”
Deal made a Biblical argument about why the ‘religious freedom’ law is unchristian, saying that Jesus preached love and acceptance of society’s outcasts, particularly those scorned by religious institutions. Deal is a Southern Baptist.
“What the New Testament teaches us is that Jesus reached out to those who were considered the outcasts, the ones that did not conform to the religious societies’ view of the world … We do not have a belief in my way of looking at religion that says we have to discriminate against anybody. If you were to apply those standards to the teaching of Jesus, I don’t think they fit.”
Deal added, “I hope that we can all just take a deep breath, recognize that the world is changing around us, and recognize that it is important that we protect fundamental religious beliefs. But we don’t have to discriminate against other people in order to do that. And that’s the compromise that I’m looking for.”
Georgia has been feeling the backlash in the past week from companies who are threatening to leave the state if the discriminatory law is passed. The bill also threatens to damage its $1.7 billion revenue boom from the entertainment industry which takes advantage of the states generous tax credit for shooting television and movies productions there such as The Walking Dead, and Ant Man,
A “License to Discriminate” bill that would sanction discrimination against LGBT Kentuckians passed out of the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee this morning. Senate Bill 180, introduced by Senator Albert Robinson of London, seeks to gut local LGBT Fairness Ordinances passed by eight Kentucky cities and make discrimination against LGBT citizens legal for all who claim “religion” as the reason for their hate.
Senate Bill 180 – THE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY/RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE ACT
Create a new section of KRS Chapter 446 to define “protected activities,” “protected activity provider,” and “protected rights”; provide legislative intent; prohibit any statute, regulation, ordinance, order, judgment, of other law or action by any court, commission, or other public agency from impairing, impeding, infringing upon, or otherwise restricting the exercise of protected rights by any protected activity provider; prohibit a protected activity provider from being fined, imprisoned, held in contempt, or otherwise punished or found liable for actions or inactions related to providing or refusing to provide protected activities unless a court finds that the complaining person or the government proved by clear and convincing evidence that a compelling governmental interest in infringing upon the act or refusal to act existed and the least restrictive means was used.
The anti-gay Kentucky Family Foundation writes:
Across America, Religious Liberty and Rights of Conscience have been intensely under attack for more than two decades . . . and especially in 2015. To stop the onslaught, this bill underscores the underlying premise of the First Amendment – in particular, the “free exercise” of religion and its undergirding of the rights of conscience. By so doing, it is an effort to properly apply Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation” that he proposed in order to keep government out of a citizen’s free exercise of their faith.
“Senate Bill 180 is nothing but a license to discriminate,” shared Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. “This legislation seeks to undo the hard work of eight Kentucky cities that chose to protect all their residents from discrimination. These cities, like nearly 200 local employers in the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, know that discrimination is bad for business. Should the Kentucky General Assembly pass this license to discriminate, it will have untold negative effects on our commonwealth’s tourism, economics, and business development.”
Earlier this week the Kentucky Senate passed Senate Bill 15 – THE STUDENT FREE SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY ACT which would allow students to openly bully others in the name of religion.
Consistent with the Constitutions of the United States of America and the
Commonwealth of Kentucky, and subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, a student shall be permitted to voluntarily:
(a) Pray or engage in religious activities in a public school, vocally or silently, alone or with other students to the same extent and under the same circumstances as a student is permitted to vocally or silently reflect, meditate,[ or] speak on, or engage in nonreligious matters alone or with other students in the public school;
(b) Express religious or political viewpoints in a public school to the same extent UNOFFICIAL COPY AS OF 02/04/16 16 REG. SESS. 16 RS SB 15/GA Page 2 of 6 SB001510.100 – 308 – 3710 GA and under the same circumstances as a student is permitted to express viewpoints on nonreligious or nonpolitical topics or subjects in the school;
(c) Express religious or political viewpoints in classroom, homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination or penalty based on the religious or political content of the submissions;
(d) Speak to and attempt to discuss religious or political viewpoints with other students in a public school to the same extent and under the same circumstances as a student is permitted to speak to and attempt to share nonreligious or nonpolitical viewpoints with other students. However, any student may demand that this speech or these attempts to share religious or political viewpoints not be directed at him or her;
(e)[(d)] Distribute religious or political literature in a public school, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions to the same extent and under the same circumstances as a student is permitted to distribute literature on nonreligious or nonpolitical topics or subjects in the school;[ and]
(f)[(e)] Display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent that a student is permitted to display nonreligious messages on items of clothing;
(g) Access public secondary school facilities during noninstructional time as a member of a religious student organization for activities that may include prayer, Bible reading, or other worship exercises to the same extent that members of nonreligious student organizations are permitted access during noninstructional time.
Will someone stop the madness? Where are our national organizations? Oh that’s right the Task Force is too busy enabling Special Snowflakes to protest anything but the real issues that affect us all and the Human Rights Campaign is too busy stumping for Chad Griffins old friend Hillary Clinton while states pass these heinous laws.
This is a very dangerous situation and is reminiscent of when states got together to write their own anti-gay marriage laws and out LGBT organizations did nothing. It took 20 years and the fall of DOMA to correct that. Can we not learn by our past mistakes.
The Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday morning 7-0 in favor of controversial and discriminatory “religious freedom” legislation. None of the committee’s Democrats were present to oppose the measure.
Senate Bill 101 will provide a free pass to people and businesses with supposed strongly held religious beliefs to be able to discriminate against serving the LGBT community.
The “Right To Discriminate” Bill now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to gain easy approval from the Republican super majority.
Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation.
The Human Rights Campaign has not replied to queries by this website at the time of posting if they will lobby against this Bill. (And I won’t hold my breath)