NewsCovering Colorado


SCOTUS to hear Denver business owner's case refusing to serve LGBTQIA, Colorado Springs attorney weighs in

Posted at 7:13 PM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 21:13:35-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — At the forefront of controversial cases landing on the Supreme Court's desk this term is a Colorado case, centered around freedom of speech and discrimination against LGBTQIA consumers.

The nation's highest court started a new term on October 3.

Lorie Smith, a graphic designer in the Denver area and owner of 303 Creative, wanted to start designing wedding websites.

However, she did not want to provide services to same-sex couples and wanted to advertise her refusal to serve them, saying it goes against her religious beliefs.

In 303 Creative V. Elenis, Smith is suing the state, arguing that Colorado's anti-discrimination law is an infringement of her freedom of speech.

"Depending on how the case is decided... That'll have a really big impact across, not just Colorado, but the country," said Ian Kalmanowitz, an attorney with Cornish & Dell'Olio, P.C., Employment Lawyers.

Kalmanowitz says if the court were to rule in favor of Smith, it could set a dangerous precedent for other civil rights.

"These interpretations of the law that are being argued for here by 303 Creative would allow a wedding website creator to say, for example, 'I'm not going to build a website for an interracial couple'," said Kalmanowitz.

The Supreme Court ruled on a similar Colorado case in 2018, narrowly ruling in favor of a Colorado cake maker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

"It just doesn't make sense to discriminate against an entire group of people based on one aspect of their identity, that truly effects no one but themselves," said Liss Smith, the Communications Manager for an advocacy group in Colorado Springs call Inside Out Youth Services.

The difference in Smith's case and the wedding-cake case, is the "procedural posture" of how the case came to be, according the Kalmanowitz.

In the case of the cake maker, the couple filed a complaint against him for his refusal to bake a cake.

No potential customer has complained about 303 Creative refusing to serve them for their sexual orientation. Instead, Smith took a proactive measure, hoping to remove or amend a state law prohibiting her from doing such.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on this case sometime in 2023.

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