Arizona Supreme Court Rules Christian Artists Cannot be Forced to Make Same-sex Wedding Invitations

This undated photo provided by Alliance Defending Freedom shows Breanna Koski, left, and Joanna Duka in Phoenix.Alliance Defending Freedom via AP file

A pair of Christian artists cannot be forced by a city ordinance to make wedding invitations for same-sex marriages, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In Brush & Nib v. City of Phoenix, Arizona’s highest court ruled that Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, cannot be compelled by a local anti-discrimination ordinance to provide their services to same-sex weddings.

Writing for the majority, Justice Andrew Gould concluded that the city of Phoenix “cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance” to force Brush & Nib to “create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“Duka, Koski, and Brush & Nib … have the right to refuse to express such messages under article 2, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution, as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act,” wrote Gould.

“Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some. But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.”

However, the Arizona high court’s ruling was limited to just the “creation of custom wedding invitations,” with the ruling not allowing for “a blanket exemption from the Ordinance for all of Plaintiffs’ business operations.”

“Likewise, we do not, on jurisprudential grounds, reach the issue of whether Plaintiffs’ creation of other wedding products may be exempt from the Ordinance,” continued Gould.

Gould was joined by Justices Clint Bolick, John Lopez, and John Pelander. Vice Chief Justice Ann Scott Timmer and Justices Scott Bales and Christopher Staring each wrote dissenting opinions.

“Our constitutions and laws do not entitle a business to discriminate among customers based on its owners’ disapproval of certain groups, even if that disapproval is based on sincerely held religious beliefs,” wrote Justice Bales.

“In holding otherwise, the majority implausibly characterizes a commercially prepared wedding invitation as ‘pure speech’ on the part of the business selling the product and discounts the compelling public interest in preventing discrimination against disfavored customers by businesses and other public accommodations.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski