The Arizona Supreme Court on Monday
ruled that a local business did not have to serve gay and lesbian
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners
of Brush & Nib Studio, which specializes in custom wedding
invitations, sued Phoenix over its LGBT protections ordinance.
The women argued that creating wedding
invitations for gay and lesbian couples forces them to celebrate such
unions. They said that the ordinance conflicts with their religious
beliefs and violates their freedoms of speech and religion.
In a 4-3 decision, the state's highest
“Duka and Koski’s beliefs about
same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,”
Justice Andrew Gould wrote for the majority. “But the guarantees of
free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are
deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are
Gould said that the ordinance violated
the Arizona Constitution's free speech clause.
“In examining the text of Arizona’s
free speech clause, we first observe that whereas the First Amendment
is phrased as a constraint on government…our state’s provision,
by contrast, is a guarantee of the individual right to ‘freely
speak, write, and publish,’ subject only to constraint for the
abuse of that right,” Gould wrote. “Thus, by its terms, the
Arizona Constitution provides broader protections for free speech
than the First Amendment.”
The women were represented by the
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“Joanna and Breanna work with all
people; they just don’t promote all messages,” ADF senior
attorney Jonathan Scruggs said. “They, like all creative
professionals, should be free to create art consistent with their
convictions without the threat of government punishment. Instead,
government must protect the freedom of artists to choose which
messages to express through their own creations. The court was right
to find that protections for free speech and religion protect the
freedom of creative professionals to choose for themselves what
messages to express through their custom artwork.”
Duka and Koski turned to the Arizona
Supreme Court after losing in lower courts. Last year, the Arizona
Court of Appeals ruled that Brush & Nib cannot legally refuse to
sell their custom-made invitations to same-sex couples.