Lorie Smith, a Colorado graphic designer at the center of a Supreme Court case examining her refusal to create marriage websites for same-sex couples, said the decision will determine whether she and other service providers can exercise their First Amendment rights in the workplace.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in the high-profile case involving Smith, the religious Christian owner of 303 Creative, who is challenging her state’s anti-discrimination laws over her refusal to create gay marriage websites, citing her religious beliefs.
In an interview on “The Story” on Monday, Smith said she wants to use her creative expression to design websites for couples in a way that’s consistent with her faith, but feels the state of Colorado “forces” her to. communicate a message. through his creations that promote same-sex marriage and violate “the core” of his religious beliefs.
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“I want to create one-of-a-kind expression and artwork and I want to design websites — wedding websites — specifically in line with my faith,” Smith told Fox News. “But the state of Colorado is constraining and controlling my speech, chilling it and forcing me to communicate a message through my unique and personalized artwork. It violates the core of who I am and at the heart of this matter is everyone’s right to speak freely and that not only protects me, protects the LGBT web designer who shouldn’t be forced to create custom artwork that opposes same-sex marriage The right to speak freely is guaranteed to all of us and a win for me is a win for everyone.”
The case is structured around a private company’s refusal to create a website for same-sex marriage, despite Colorado’s anti-discrimination law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“At the heart of this matter is the right of everyone to speak coherently[ly] with what they believe, whether their views on marriage or other topics are similar to mine or maybe different,” Smith said. “No one should be punished for communicating, talking and creating personalized artwork that goes along with what they believe.
Smith said she would work with anyone, including the LGBTQ community, but not for the specific purpose of same-sex marriages, adding that she makes creative decisions based on message and content, and serves all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.
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“I serve people from all walks of life and have clients who identify as LGBT[Q]. I can’t create every message that’s asked of me,” she said. “There are messages I can’t create no matter who asks for them,” she added.
Smith and his legal team argued that his work constituted speech and that Colorado law requiring him to create posts that conflicted with his values violated his First Amendment rights.
“The court has never compelled someone to create messages, that is, to use their heart, head and hand to imagine and design art and use words and texts”, Smith’s attorney, Kristen Wagoner of Alliance Defending Freedom, said in the Fox News interview.
“The court never compelled this kind of speech, even at the height of the civil rights era, it didn’t compel speech. Because it’s not the government’s job to tell Americans what that deserves to be celebrated…it is dishonest to suggest that it is a matter of service.It is a matter of word.
“It is not the role of the government to mandate what is true and what is not. It is the role of the citizen, to be able to decide what to express. No one should be forced to express a message that violates his beliefs and in Colorado they do so under threat of fines,” Wagoner added, noting that “some jurisdictions impose prison terms.”
Some critics have argued that because Smith’s content is unique, it creates a monopoly and thus limits the access of same-sex couples looking for a wedding website to this monopoly.
Wagoner dismissed the argument, telling host Martha MacCallum that such a claim, if legitimized, “would overthrow the First Amendment.”
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“It would mean that each of us could be compelled to express the government’s message,” she said. “What’s important here is that Colorado even accepts that Ms. Smith serves everyone. She serves everyone. She has clients who identify as LGBT[Q] and she serves them. As the court mentioned many times today, its decisions depend on the message, not the person,” Wagoner explained.
“We all want that freedom,” she continued. “That we’re a Democratic publicist and we don’t want to write for a Republican or a pro-abortion photographer and we don’t want to have to film or photograph a pro-life rally.”