Homophobic Colorado Web Designer Returns to Trial Court After Supreme Court Win

Author: Trudy Ring

Lawyers for Lorie Smith, the web designer who doesn’t want to serve same-sex couples, were back in court this week as Colorado prepares to implement the favorable ruling she received from the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Smith, owner of 303 Creative, wants to offer wedding websites but says providing them to same-sex couples would violate her free speech rights, even though Colorado law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. She objects to same-sex marriage because of her conservative Christian beliefs.

She sued in 2016 challenging the state’s antidiscrimination law, and after she lost at the federal district court and appeals court levels, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 303 Creative v. Elenis that she had the right to refuse to create messages with which she disagrees. The high court sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Colorado for the state to approve an order recognizing that right.

In the district court Tuesday, lawyers for Smith and the state said they would join in drafting an injunction saying Smith would not be punished under Colorado law. Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer gave them until December 7 to do, Colorado Politics reports. If they can’t agree on the language, he said, each side can submit its version and he’ll come up with a final order.

When the case came back to the district court, it was initially assigned to Judge Charlotte N. Sweeney, the first out gay federal judge in Colorado. She recused herself, saying her impartiality might be questioned. Brimmer then took over the case.

Smith has not been in the wedding website business so far, so her refusal to create them for same-sex couples was a preemptive move. Her site says wedding websites are coming soon.

She was represented in her case by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has represented many other anti-LGBTQ+ clients, including Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who was sued after he refused to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found him in violation of state law, and he appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which vacated the commission’s ruling against him in 2018, saying commissioners had shown insufficient respect for his religious beliefs.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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