Religion Clause: 10th Circuit: Colorado Anti-Discrimination Law Can Apply To Wedding Website Designer

 In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, (10th Cir., July 26, 2021), the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the application of Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act to a wedding website design company whose owner for religious reasons refuses to create websites that celebrate same-sex marriages. The Act bars refusing services because of a customer’s sexual orientation and publishing any communication that indicates such discriminatory practices. The majority conceded that the law compelled speech and acted as a content-based restriction. However the majority found that it nevertheless was constitutional because it was narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest.  The majority said in part: Here, Colorado has a compelling interest in protecting both the dignity interests of members of marginalized groups and their material interests in accessing the commercial marketplace…. To be clear, we, like the Dissent, do not question Appellants’ “sincere religious beliefs” or “good faith.”… Yet, we fail to see how Appellants’ sincerity or good faith should excuse them from CADA. Appellants’ intent has no bearing on whether, as a consequence, same-sex couples have limited access to goods or services…. The Communication Clause does not violate the Appellants’ Free Speech rights. As the district court correctly held, Colorado may prohibit speech that promotes unlawful activity, including unlawful discrimination…. Chief Judge Tymkovich filed a lengthy dissenting opinion. saying in part: While everyone supports robust and vigorously enforced anti-discrimination laws, those laws need not and should not force a citizen to make a Hobson’s choice over matters of conscience. Colorado is rightfully interested in protecting certain classes of persons from arbitrary and discriminatory treatment. But what Colorado cannot do is turn the tables on Ms. Smith and single out her speech and religious beliefs for discriminatory treatment under the aegis of anti-discrimination laws.

Religion Clause: 10th Circuit: Colorado Anti-Discrimination Law Can Apply To Wedding Website Designer

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