In another Courtroom test of religious rights, freedom of conscience has won the day.
In another variation of the ‘bake the damn cake’ case, the religious right of REFUSAL to construct artistic work that violates the maker’s conscience has held up to judicial scrutiny. The artists, in this case, were Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Phoenix-based Brush & Nib Studio. Rather than baking cakes, their wedding-related work involves custom invitations.
Their objection is that creating invitations to a same-sex wedding amounts to an endorsement of it, even though their religious convictions would prevent them from endorsing same-sex marriages as valid.
At issue: there is a law in Arizona that protects LGBT (etc) groups from being unfairly discriminated against.
The Decision: Judges have now ruled (4-3) that law cannot be used to bludgeon anyone with a religious or artistic objection to completing a specific task.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Sept. 16 that the city of Phoenix can’t use a criminal law to compel two artists to produce custom wedding invitations for LGBT couples because that would force them to express messages that conflict with their personal religious beliefs.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Phoenix-based Brush & Nib Studio were threatened by the city with as much as six months of jail time, $2,500 in fines, and three years of probation for each day the city found them in violation of the law.
Duka and Koski said the Phoenix city code blocked them from exercising artistic and religious freedom by forcing them to make wedding invitations for same-sex couples. The 2013 ordinance, which applies to businesses serving the general public, forbids discrimination grounded in race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.
As was the case high-profile cake-baking cases, there is a difference between refusing to sell a generic off-the-shelf item to a particular group or category of people, and refusing to do custom work for a particular use. It was on this premise that they gave their refusal.
This decision reverses an earlier lower-court ruling against them.
They were represented by “Christian legal interest group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. ADF was created to defend religious liberty from “the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies[, which have] used the courts to drive out public expressions of faith and to radically change America into something the Founding Fathers never intended,” the group states on its website.”
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