Arizona Supreme Court Says Christian Artists Can’t Be Jailed For Refusing to Serve Same-Sex Weddings
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Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski of Brush & Nib Studio had been involved in a legal battle over a city ordinance the artists said would violate their First Amendment rights by forcing them to create art for same-sex weddings.
Duka and Koski are Christians who own a business in Phoenix. They believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
“They looked around the country and they saw people getting sued for declining to celebrate same-sex weddings and they wanted to know what their rights are because they often create wedding related artwork like wedding invitations and wedding signs,” the artists’ attorney Jonathan Scruggs of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said on The Todd Starnes Show. “They found that a Phoenix law would compel them to do that under threats of six months in jail and $2500 in fines per day, and so they went to court and said ‘we think we have these freedoms of speech and religion.’”
The Arizona Supreme Court agreed with the artists on Monday.
“We could not be more excited,” Joanna Duka told The Todd Starnes Show. “It’s a great win for Arizonans, for other artists, for freedom.”
Breanna Koski said this can be misinterpreted for discrimination, “and that’s not the case at all.”
“We do serve everybody happily and we love everybody, (but) we just can’t create every message,” added Koski. “Something that violates our conscience, it’s not something that we should have to do, and the Arizona Supreme Court held that up Monday.”
So, what happens now? Does the law go away, or will the city file an appeal?
“The city can’t appeal, it’s all over,” answered Scruggs. “What the court basically said was ‘you can’t apply the law in a way that violates freedom of speech and freedom of religion,’ so, there could be possible applications of the law that are totally fine.”
For example, Scruggs said there are some businesses that don’t create speech at all.
“But that’s not the issue here,” Scruggs continued. “The issue here goes to our core freedoms of can the government tell artists what messages they have to celebrate?”
Scruggs stressed that a win for Joanna and Breanna’s views would also protect an LGBT web designer from being forced to convey a message that he or she disagrees with, as well as an atheist singer from being forced to sing at a church service.
“We have continued to do our business the best that we can during these last few years, but it’s been a challenging time,” said Joanna Duka. “We’re looking forward now to being able to fully continue our business.”