Supreme Court Same-Sex Wedding Website Case

June 30, 2023

In this case, Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance. . . . The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.

United States Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch writing the majority opinion for the court, which ruled 6-3 that the First Amendment protects business owners from having to engage in speech (or provide a service construed as speech) with which they disagree.

What To Know: The case involves a a Colorado-based graphic designer who plans to design wedding websites for opposite-sex couples exclusively. She opposes same-sex marriage due to her Christian faith. Colorado, like many states, has a “public accommodations” law, which prohibits businesses from denying a customer services based on traits like their race or sexual orientation. Accordingly, the designer filed a lawsuit seeking to clarify her rights to limit her services to opposite-sex couples.

The Court ruled that if Colorado were to compel her to create websites celebrating marriages she does not endorse it would be a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech because the First Amendment’s protections apply to all forms of speech, including websites to communicate ideas. In doing so, the Court reasoned that “when a state public accommodations law and the Constitution collide, there can be no question which must prevail.”

Excerpt from Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion: Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people. The Supreme Court of the United States declares that a particular kind of business, though open to the public, has a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class. The Court does so for the first time in its history. By issuing this new license to discriminate in a case brought by a company that seeks to deny same-sex couples the full and equal enjoyment of its services, the immediate, symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.”

Read the Supreme Court’s opinion HERE

by Jenna Lee,