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Supreme Court Takes Case Involving Refusal to Serve Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex marriage ceremony

A Colorado web designer says she will not provide wedding website creation services to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday morning to hear a case involving the rights of LGBTQ+ people and religious freedom.

The court said it would hear the appeal from Colorado web designer Lorie Smith. Smith wants to expand her wedding website services; however, she has argued that she would have to object to providing services for same-sex couples, according to the Associated Press.

Additionally, Smith wants to include a statement on her website about her religious beliefs. That would be in violation of the state's antidiscrimination law. Smith says the current law violates her free speech and religious rights.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said that it would only look into the free speech issue. The case, expected to be argued in the fall, will examine "whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment," according to The New York Times.

Last year, in a 2-1 ruling, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Smith's attempt to overturn a lower court ruling that threw out her legal challenge.

"Colorado has a compelling interest in protecting both the dignity interests of members of marginalized groups and their material interests in accessing the commercial marketplace," Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote for the majority, according to the Times.

The law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, is the same one at the heart of the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips back in 2018.

Justices said at the time that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted with anti-religious bias in fining Phillips for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding, and therefore they voided the commission's decision against Phillips. However, the court did not decide on the more substantial issue of whether businesses in general can invoke religious objections to refuse service to LGBTQ+ people.

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