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Christian Wedding Site Designer Loses Appeal Case

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JAMES ANDERSON – ASSOCIATED PRESS

While a baker from the same state won his challenge, court upholds Colorado anti-discrimination requirements for the owner of a creative agency.

US appeals court has ruled against a Christian web designer who didn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples and sued to challenge Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, another twist in a series of court rulings nationwide about whether businesses denying services to LGBTQ people amounts to bias or freedom of speech. A three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday denied Lorie Smith’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling throwing out her legal challenge.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Smith, argued that the law forced her to violate her Christian beliefs.

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The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom also represented Phillips. Founded in 1994 by Christian leaders concerned about religious freedom, the group said it would appeal Monday’s ruling. “The government should never force creative professionals to promote a message or cause with which they disagree. That is quintessential free speech and artistic freedom,” the group’s senior counsel, John Bursch, said in a statement.

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Lambda Legal, a group that fights for the civil rights of LGBTQ people, had submitted a brief supporting the Colorado law. “This really isn’t about cake or websites or flowers,” Lambda Legal senior counsel Jennifer C. Pizer said in a statement. “It’s about protecting LGBTQ people and their families from being subjected to slammed doors, service refusals and public humiliation in countless places—from fertility clinics to funeral homes and everywhere in between.”

In arguments before the three-judge panel in November, Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich asked what Smith would do if she was approached by a straight wedding planner asking her to create four heterosexual wedding sites and one for a same-sex wedding. Kristen Waggoner, a lawyer for the alliance, said Smith would not take that job.

 

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