Gay Rights vs. Free Speech: Supreme Court Backs Free speech

Free speech has constitutional protection. Gay rights  do not.  

I have never understood why homosexuals do not want to use homosexual-friendly  businesses for their needs.  Why must they harass Christians?

One has to conclude that harassment of Christians is the point, not provision of services to homosexuals.  So the SCOTUS ruling is in effect an anti-harassment ruling.  And why do some homosexuals target Christians?  Leviticus 20:13 provides a graphic answer.  Homosexuals should be grateful for Romans 2:1

In a 6-to-3 vote, split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court sided on Friday with a web designer in Colorado who said she had a First Amendment right to refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages despite a state law that forbids discrimination against gay people.

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said that “the opportunity to think for ourselves and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong.”

He added, “The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”

The case, though framed as a clash between free speech and gay rights, was the latest in a series of decisions in favor of religious people and groups, notably conservative Christians, who celebrated the ruling on Friday as a victory for religious freedom.

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the ruling “profoundly wrong,” arguing that the Colorado anti-discrimination law “targets conduct, not speech, for regulation, and the act of discrimination has never constituted protected expression under the First Amendment. Our Constitution contains no right to refuse service to a disfavored group.”

The designer, Lorie Smith, said her Christian faith requires her to turn away customers seeking wedding-related services to celebrate same-sex unions. She added that she intends to post a message saying the company’s policy is a product of her religious convictions.

A Colorado law forbids discrimination against gay people by businesses open to the public as well as statements announcing such discrimination. Ms. Smith, who has not begun the wedding business or posted the proposed statement for fear of running afoul of the law, sued to challenge it, saying it violated her rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion.

But when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, 303 Creative L.L.C. v. Elenis, No. 21-476, it agreed to decide only one question: “whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.”

In a news conference Friday in Washington, Ms. Smith said she was grateful to the court, who “affirmed today that Colorado can’t force me or anyone to say something we don’t believe.”

Here’s what else to know:

Progressive interfaith groups and L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organizations around the country condemned the ruling. Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that the ruling was “a deeply troubling crack in our progress and should be alarming to us all.”

Both sides have said that the consequences of the court’s ruling could be enormous, though for different reasons. Ms. Smith’s supporters said a decision for the state would allow the government to force all sorts of artists to state things at odds with their beliefs. Her opponents said a ruling in her favor would blow a hole through anti-discrimination laws and allow businesses engaged in expression to refuse service to, for example, Black people or Muslims based on odious but sincerely held convictions.

The decision appeared to suggest that the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. people, including to same-sex marriage, are on more vulnerable legal footing, particularly when they are at odds with claims of religious freedom. At the same time, the ruling limited the ability of the governments to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

Lower courts have generally sided with gay and lesbian couples who were refused service by bakeries, florists and others, ruling that potential customers are entitled to equal treatment, at least in parts of the country with laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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