The Arizona Court of Appeals on
Thursday upheld a Phoenix ordinance that prohibits discrimination
based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners
of Brush & Nib Studio, which specializes in custom wedding
invitations, filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that
Phoenix's ordinance conflicts with their religious beliefs and
violates their freedoms of speech and religion.
In October, a trial judge ruled against
their attempt to invalidate the city ordinance. The company appealed
In upholding the lower court's
decision, the appeals court cited a Supreme Court decision that sided
with a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay
couple. In Masterpiece Cakeshop, the high court said that the
Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown hostility toward the
baker's religious beliefs in ruling that he had violated the state's
anti-discrimination laws when he refused to make the cake. Rather
than striking down the law, the high court vacated the decision.
Court narrowly sides with baker who refused gay couple.)
ruling also reaffirmed protections for gay men and lesbians.
“[A]llowing a vendor who provides
goods and services for marriages and weddings to refuse similar
services for gay persons would result in 'a community-wide stigma
inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that
ensure equal access to goods, services and public accommodations,'”
three-judge panel wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) cheered the ruling.
“The Arizona court today rightly
ruled that businesses open to the public must be open to all and
cannot discriminate against potential customers based on who they
are: in this case, members of the LGBT community," Joshua Block,
an ACLU senior staff attorney, said in a statement.