Just two weeks after a shooter killed 5 people, injured 18, and traumatized so many others at Club Q in Colorado Springs, the United States Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in an anti-LGBTQ public accommodations discrimination case from Colorado.
In the case of 303 Creative v. Elenis, the National LGBTQ Task Force joins the friend of the court (amicus) brief of GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Lambda Legal, White & Case LLP, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The case involves a Colorado wedding website designer who asks the Supreme Court to approve her ugly intentional discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
Lorie Smith, this secular business’s owner, claims she is an artist with a First Amendment free speech and freedom of religion right to publicly claim on her website that she won’t serve LGBTQ+ individuals. Smith’s outward denial of services to people based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a clear violation of the public accommodations non-discrimination law. Smith is represented by what the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as an extremist group through its fighting hate program.
Rev. Nicole Garcia, Director of Faith Work at the National LGBTQ Task Force, said, “This is the latest example of the weaponization of faith to discriminate against our community. But our community—and the larger culture —knows the truth. Many LGBTQ people are people of faith, and numerous denominations welcome and celebrate the inclusion of LGBTQ people in their faith communities, and celebrate our weddings with joy. As a pastor, I stand with my community and our allies against any form of discrimination—to maintain the clear and bright line of separation of church and state.
Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County, states, “Colorado is a more welcoming state for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people than this lawsuit would lead one to believe. The owner of 303 Designs is backed by the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). ADF has a warped idea about freedom in that their relentless crusade to discriminate against people based on who they are or whom they love. Of course, businesses open to the public should not be able to discriminate and deny services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer customers. Discrimination is not only the wrong thing to do but also bad for our communities and our economy. The people of Colorado suffered through Amendment 2 in the 1990s; we do not need to be put through another controversy that pits neighbor against neighbor, nor should other states endure the same.
Said Liz Seaton, Policy Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force: “The amicus brief focuses on LGBTQ+ issues and draws comparison to other marginalized groups discriminated against in public spaces. It drills down on why public accommodation laws exist and challenges the idea that consumers can seek services elsewhere. Allowing open discrimination legalizes segregation in the marketplace. Not only is this constitutionally wrong, but it also is morally reprehensible. The brief’s most important argument lifts up the powerful amicus briefs of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Those two briefs by venerable civil rights organizations provide a detailed history of public accommodations discrimination against Black and Brown people in this country. We are proud to stand with them and with GLAD, NCLR, Lambda Legal, White & Case LLP and HRC to uphold the rule of law.”
For information on Colorado resources, visit one-colorado.org.