Democrats and LGBTQ+ advocates on Friday condemned a Supreme Court decision siding with a Colorado web designer who argued she should be able to refuse to build wedding websites for same-sex couples. Republicans, meanwhile, praised the ruling as a victory for religious freedom.
What You Need To Know
- Democrats and LGBTQ+ advocates on Friday condemned a Supreme Court decision siding with a Colorado web designer who argued she should be able to refuse to build wedding websites for same-sex couples
- Republicans, meanwhile, praised the ruling as a victory for religious freedom
- In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that a Colorado law that forbids businesses open to the public from discriminating against gay people violated web designer Lorie Smith’s free-speech rights
In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that a Colorado law that forbids businesses open to the public from discriminating against gay people violated web designer Lorie Smith’s free-speech rights. Smith, who owns the graphic design firm 303 Creative, argued that working with same-sex couples would go against her Christian faith.
President Joe Biden called the ruling “disappointing” because he said it undermines that “no person should face discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love.”
While the decision only applies to businesses that perform creative services, Biden said he fears it could “invite more discrimination against LGBTQI+ Americans.”
The president added that his administration remains committed to working with federal law enforcement to protect Americans from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation and will work with states to combat attempts to roll back civil rights protections.
“When one group’s dignity and equality are threatened, the promise of our democracy is threatened and we all suffer,” Biden said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the ruling “a giant step backward for human rights and equal protection in the United States.”
“Refusing service based on whom someone loves is just as bigoted and hateful as refusing service because of race or religion,” he said in a statement. “And this is bigotry that the vast majority of Americans find completely unacceptable.”
Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, called the decision “dangerous” because it will give “some businesses the power to discriminate against people simply because of who we are.”
“People deserve to have commercial spaces that are safe and welcoming,” she said. “This decision continues to affirm how radical and out-of-touch this Court is.”
Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., who is openly gay, called it “a very dark day for our community.”
“This is a devastating ruling for the LGBTQ+ community,” he said in an interview with MSNBC. “We just spent a month celebrating, trying to uplift pride. It’s already a very dark time for this community, where you have attacks happening on our community every day in Congress, in state legislatures. And to have this happen by a true extreme activist court to roll back a key protection against discriminating our community is shameful.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., also attacked the conservative-majority court while noting the case involved a hypothetical situation. Smith has never designed wedding websites. She argued she wants to expand her business but was concerned about running afoul of the Colorado law.
“This SCOTUS is out of control,” Coleman tweeted. “It's now taking made up cases in order to push a radical agenda that is out of touch with the vast majority of the American people.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., meanwhile, directed a supportive tweet toward the LGBTQ community.
“Despite yet another callous ruling from this extreme Supreme Court, I want our LGBTQ siblings to know: We see you. We love you. We won't stop fighting for you,” she wrote.
But Kristen Waggoner, president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, said in a statement the Supreme Court made the right decision. ADF attorneys, including Waggoner, represented Smith in the case.
“The U.S. Supreme Court rightly reaffirmed that the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe,” Waggoner said. “The court reiterated that it’s unconstitutional for the state to eliminate from the public square ideas it dislikes, including the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife.
“Disagreement isn’t discrimination, and the government can’t mislabel speech as discrimination to censor it,” she added.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said laws should not compel business owners to use their speech in ways that contradict their faith.
“This law wasn’t just a threat to Christians either,” Cruz said in a statement. “Should a Muslim artist be compelled by the government to draw the image of Muhammed? Should Jewish artists be forced to create art that is antisemitic?”
On Twitter, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., added, “Participating in commerce does not mean you should have to abandon your faith and individuals should not be compelled, by government, to act counter to their faith.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said in a tweet, “Today Faith Won!”
“Freedom of Religion is the bedrock of our Constitution,” he wrote. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for the Religious Liberty of every American of every faith to live, work and worship according to their faith and conscience!
And former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a Republican who is also running for president, said she’s “glad we have a Supreme Court that respects our Constitution.”
“Unlike in other countries, we don't force our citizens to express themselves in ways that conflict with their religious beliefs. It's called the First Amendment,” Haley said in a statement.