Colo. Graphic Artist Sues Over Marriage Equality

A Colorado graphic designer filed a federal lawsuit Sept. 20 challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws that would prevent her from refusing to serve same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs – even though no same-sex couples have tried to hire her.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing Lorie Smith and her studio, 303 Creative, against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

“Artists shouldn’t be threatened with punishment for disagreeing with the government’s preferred views,” ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco told the Denver Post. “The state must allow artists the freedom to make personal decisions about what art they can and can’t create.”

No same-sex couples have requested Smith’s services, but she said she is suing to ensure that she is not required to serve them. Colorado law allows “pre-enforcement challenges,” legal actions taken if a citizen believes a law might affect his or her rights.

The Rev. Amanda Henderson, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, noted that courts usually rule against lawsuits like Smith’s.

“Nobody should be turned away from a business or denied service simply because of who they are,” Henderson said in a statement. “Allowing business owners to refuse service to customers whom they dislike, or disapprove, will open a can of worms and make it more difficult to enforce Colorado’s laws that ensure businesses are open to everyone.”