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The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to rule on whether a web designer has the right to refuse to work with same-sex couples.
Lorie Smith, a conservative Christian woman from Colorado, works as a graphic artist and web designer and is looking to expand her business to design custom websites for weddings.
Her lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom have explained that she is willing to work with 'all people regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, and gender', however Smith has claimed her religious beliefs would prompt her to refuse requests from same-sex couples to design a wedding website.
She also wishes to post a statement on her website about her beliefs, which would come in violation of a Colorado anti-discrimination law, ABC News 4 reports.
A civil rights law in Colorado requires businesses to be fully open to all customers no matter their sexual orientation, but lawyers told the court that Smith 'cannot create websites that promote messages contrary to her faith, such as messages that condone violence or promote sexual immorality, abortion, or same-sex marriage'.
The team are looking to get conservative Christians a partial exemption from Colorado laws which would require them to participate, even indirectly, in a same-sex marriage, according to The Los Angeles Times. The exemption would be based on 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
Today, February 22, the Supreme Court agreed to rule on the case if the issue is limited solely to freedom of speech.
The decision comes after the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied Smith’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling which threw out her legal challenge.
In her appeal, she claimed the appeals court 'took the extreme position that the government may compel an artist — any artist — to create expressive content, even if that content violates her faith.... If left in place, the 10th Circuit’s decision will allow officials to compel Democratic speechwriters to plug Republican candidates and Muslim artists to create cartoon parodies of Allah.'
The state's lawyers argued the state law was a ban on discrimination by businesses engaged in commerce rather than a restriction on free speech, saying: 'Requiring the company to produce the same services for same-sex couples that it produces for opposite-sex couples does not require it to speak in favor of same-sex marriage.'
Now that the supreme court has agreed to rule on the case, it will be scheduled for arguments in autumn.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
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