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Cruz leads congressional support for court case challenging LGBT anti-discrimination law

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 6/9/2022 Rebekah Alvey, The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz is leading an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of a graphic designer who claims a Colorado law violates her freedom of speech by not allowing her to advertise her refusal to design for same-sex marriages based on religious beliefs.

Twenty senators and 38 House members have also signed onto the brief, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Reps. Brian Babin, Louie Gohmert, Ronny L. Jackson and Randy Weber.

“I’m hopeful we’ll see a victory in this case, which would be a victory for free speech and for religious liberty of all Americans,” Cruz said Thursday at a press event outside the Capitol.

Lorie Smith, owner of graphic design firm 303 Creative LLC, filed the initial complaint against a Colorado law that prevents public businesses from discriminating against members of the LGBT community, or announcing an intent to do so.

Smith planned on expanding her business to wedding websites, but wanted to post a message on her website announcing she would not design websites for same-sex marriages. Smith claims same-sex marriages go against her religious beliefs.

During the event, Smith said she works with a diversity of people, including those who identify as LGBT. She said in her experiences, the person requesting the design is not important rather than the message they want expressed.

“It’s very important to me that everything I design, I create, be consistent with my faith which inspires and guides my life,” Smith said.

Smith was joined by her lawyer Kristen Waggoner with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative non-profit organization and legal advocacy group. The group has a history of opposing LGBT rights, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We believe that it’s time for the court to rule and that that ruling will have a broad impact,” Waggoner said to reporters. “This is about free speech, and the court seems willing to address it and we’re hopeful to protect the rights of all Americans.”

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Smith in 2021. She appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court which agreed to hear the case in February to determine if Smith’s right to free speech was violated.

This is not the first challenge to the Colorado anti-discrimination law. In 2012 a same-sex couple requested a cakeshop make a wedding cake for them, but was refused by the owner based on religious beliefs.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the cakeshop owner in 2018. The Justices found the Colorado law violated the free exercise clause of the First Amendment by not giving the owner fair and equal consideration of his claims.

However, the 2018 decision did not strike down the Colorado law, just asserted that state officials could not ignore the religious beliefs used to justify the discrimination.

303 Creative LLC vs. Elenis is a peremptory challenge as Smith has not denied anyone service based on religious beliefs. Meaning the decision in this case could have a wider effect in scaling back anti-discriminatory policies than Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Oral arguments in the Supreme Court for the case will likely be held in the fall.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Visit dallasnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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