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Arizona’s Supreme Court has ruled that two Christian business partners can refuse to make same-sex wedding invitations. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski own a hand-painting company which creates artwork, such as wedding invitations.  The city of Phoenix wanted to enforce a prohibition on anyone offering services discriminating against another based on their status in a ‘protected’ group, including someone’s sexual orientation.  The Christian women started the case themselves to prevent the ordinance being used against them in the future.  They wanted the right to explain on their website that they would “not create any artwork that violates our religious and artistic beliefs.”

It lists several examples of objectionable artwork, including artwork that “exploits women or sexually objectifies the female body”, “exploits the environment”, or “any custom artwork that demeans others, endorses racism, incites violence, contradicts our Christian faith, or promotes any marriage except marriage between one man and one woman,” such as “wedding invitations for same-sex wedding ceremonies.”  The city wanted to dismiss this request.  It’s now been ruled that the City of Phoenix cannot force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.

The ruling acknowledged their Christian faith, saying that their business involves custom-made artwork and working with their client couples and that designing an invitation that celebrated same-sex marriage would violate their beliefs.  The ruling stated that the “Plaintiffs assert they will serve all customers, regardless of sexual orientation.  However, they refuse to create or express certain messages, regardless of who makes the request.”  Justice Gould of the Supreme Court ruled:  “The rights of free speech so precious to this nation, are not limited to a person’s home or church, or private conversations with friends and family.  These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public.

The justice also said: “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.  After all, while our own ideas may be popular today, they may not be tomorrow.”  The court concluded that the city’s ordinance “unconstitutionally compels speech” of Brush and Nib Studio’s owners and would have substantially burdened their freedom of religion.  They therefore can legally refuse to make invitations for same-sex weddings and say so on their website.

Source: Premier News Service