Appeals court rules Christian web designer must create websites for same-sex marriages

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Byron White US Courthouse/ Facebook

It seems difficult to believe, but if you are a designer/publisher in Colorado you can actually be forced to design and publish material you find morally repugnant.

That is the upshot of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ rejection of a web designer’s challenge to the state law on constitutional grounds.

Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, didn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples and ran afoul of the state’s anti-discrimination law, according to reporting by CNN.

Appellate Court Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, writing for the majority, agreed with the dissenting judge, writing “diversity of faiths and religious exercise,” including Smith’s, “‘enriches’ society.”

Still, the judge wrote that while Smith’s free speech and free exercise rights were “compelling,” they did not take precedence over Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, the same law that led to the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a baker in that state who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Smith was represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit Christian legal group, who argued that the decision forces its client to create websites that run counter to her religious beliefs.

“The government should never force creative professionals to promote a message or cause with which they disagree. That is quintessential free speech and artistic freedom,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch in a statement that followed the ruling.

Kristen Waggoner, who represented Smith for ADF, says the group plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

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