Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom have filed a pre-enforcement challenge before the US District Court for the District of Colorado that aims to take on the state’s anti-discrimination laws — specifically one that prohibits the denial of services to same-sex couples. Denver-based graphic designer Lorie Smith of 303 Creative believes that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, and doesn’t believe in providing her services to those who represent the contrary. Per the filing, Lorie believes that “God is calling her to promote and celebrate His design for marriage by designing and creating custom wedding websites for weddings between one man and one woman only.”
On 303 Creative’s website, Lorie makes sure to announce her Christianity and warn potential clients that “because of [her] faith, however, I am selective about the messages that I create or promote – while I will serve anyone I am always careful to avoid communicating ideas or messages, or promoting events, products, services, or organizations, that are inconsistent with my religious beliefs.”
“Artists shouldn’t be threatened with punishment for disagreeing with the government’s preferred views,” ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco informed media via press release this morning. “The state must allow artists the freedom to make personal decisions about what art they can and can’t create.”
Added ADF Legal Counsel Samuel Green: “Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment by the government. Just because an artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean Colorado can require her to express all viewpoints. It’s unlawful to force an artist to create against her will and intimidate her into silence just because the government disagrees with her beliefs.”
Pre-enforcement challenges are presented before a court when a citizen believes he or she will face legal repercussions for acting according to their beliefs, in spite of those beliefs contradicting existing laws. These sorts of challenges are pre-emptive moves that aim to curtail repercussions for disregarding extant law. Such lawsuits are used by organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
An excerpt from the Wednesday press release reads:
Specifically, the suit challenges Colorado Revised Statute § 24-34-601(2)(a), a portion of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has construed CADA to force artists like Smith to create objectionable art even though Smith happily serves everyone and decides what art to create based on the art’s message—not her client’s personal characteristics. The law also prohibits artists from expressing any religious views about marriage that could make someone feel “unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable” because of their sexual orientation.
The challenge has not received an official time on the court docket, and Lorie’s attorneys have informed media that she will not be speaking on the matter.
Read 303 Creative v. Elenis here.