Just three days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued its own ruling.
The outcomes were very different.
The U.S. Supreme Court made it clear in its Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling that the government must give fair consideration to those with religious objections to same-sex marriage—the First Amendment applies to both popular and unpopular views. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
Still, some cities and states have passed and enforce laws that keep people from living consistently with their beliefs about marriage – under threat of government punishment.
One of those places is Phoenix, Arizona.
As Phoenix interprets it, its ordinance requires people to take on projects that express messages or celebrate events that conflict with their religious beliefs. If they don’t, they face jail time and burdensome fines. The law even prohibits people from explaining publicly what they can and cannot create consistent with their beliefs.
This deeply concerned painter Breanna Koski and calligrapher Joanna Duka. Breanna and Joanna own an art studio, Brush & Nib Studio, where they design custom artwork to celebrate the special events – such as weddings, births, and graduations – in their clients’ lives.
Like Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips, Joanna and Breanna are Christians who believe what the Bible says about marriage – that it is the union of one man and one woman.
And also like Jack, Breanna and Joanna serve everyone – regardless of their sexual orientation – but they cannot use their artistic talents to celebrate every event. They pour their heart and creativity into the finished product. In the act of creating, they are celebrating with the client.
They simply want to run their business consistently with their faith. But under Phoenix’s interpretation of its law, they can’t. They can’t even explain on their website how their beliefs affect their creative decision-making.
So, rather than wait to be thrown in jail or fined, they decided to challenge the law, which stifles their constitutional rights. Still, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled against them.
But no one should be bullied or banished from the marketplace simply because their beliefs don’t line up with the government-favored viewpoint.
Because the Arizona Court of Appeals refused to recognize this, Alliance Defending Freedom is appealing their case to the Arizona Supreme Court, where they will have a chance to issue a ruling more in line with what the Supreme Court has said about free speech and religious exercise. Not to mention more in line with the Arizona Constitution.