Justices argue in the most recent conflict between religion and homosexual rights

Justices argue in the most recent conflict between religion and homosexual rights

Published on December 08, 2022 01:04 AM by Sally Harbor

The latest conflict between religion and gay rights to reach the Supreme Court included a Christian graphic artist who objected to creating wedding websites for gay couples. The conservative majority of the court expressed sympathy for the artist on Monday.

According to the designer and others who support her, a decision against her would compel musicians, painters, photographers, authors, and designers to produce work that goes against their moral convictions. In the meantime, her opponents claim that if she succeeds, a variety of enterprises will be free to practice discrimination, rejecting Black, Jewish, or Muslim clients, interracial or interfaith couples, or immigrants.

The judges frequently tested the implications of a judgment in favor of the designer

(Image Credits: 9news)

The judges frequently tested what a decision in favor of the designer could imply over more than two hours of passionate discussion by invoking specific and occasionally humorous hypothetical scenarios. These included a photographer who was asked to shoot photos for the marital adultery website Ashley Madison, a Black Santa who was asked to pose with a child wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume, and an imaginary food company named "Grandma Helen's Protestant Provisions."

The ruling followed a string of cases in which the justices agreed with religious plaintiffs, and it comes at a time when conservatives, 6-3, rule the court. A major bill guaranteeing same-sex marriage is being finalized by Congress, which is taking place across the street from the court. This legislation was inspired by a different high court decision from earlier this year.

The court's three liberal justices expressed reservations about supporting website designer and graphic artist Lorie Smith during Monday's arguments, but conservatives urged support for her.

Smith was referred to as "A person who claims to sell websites to everyone and actually does so, but who refuses to sell a website that requires her to declare an opinion on marriage that she considers offensive" by Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of the three high court appointees made by the former President Donald Trump.

Smith, a Colorado resident, does not currently produce wedding websites. She wants to but claims that because she is a Christian, she cannot design websites that honour same-sex unions.

An issue that came up during Monday's arguments was when an objection to serving someone becomes unlawful.

One of the three liberal judges on the court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, questioned whether a photography business in a mall could refuse to take images of Black individuals sitting on Santa's knee.

Jackson, one of the two Black justices on the court, stated that "They have a rule that states that only white kids can be photographed with Santa in this way because that is how they see the Santa scenarios they are trying to portray."

The court would be the first to hold that a "commercial enterprise open to the public, serving the public, that it might refuse to service a customer based on race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation," according to Jackson's colleague liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor constantly questioned Smith's attorney about what kind of behavior business owners may deny. What about those who are opposed to interracial unions? Or what about those who don't think disabled persons should marry? Where is the boundary? Tomayor enquired.

However, Smith appeared to have the support of conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who questioned whether it was "fair to link resistance to same-sex marriage with opposition to interracial marriage." And he cited the phrase "honorable people who disagree with same-sex marriage" from the court's 2015 judgment establishing a universal right to same-sex marriage.

Alito was the judge who questioned whether a Black Santa might decline to pose for a photo with a child wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume. No, Eric Olson said, arguing on behalf of Colorado, since Ku Klux Klan garb wouldn't be covered by statutes governing public accommodations.

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According to Justice Elena Kagan

Olson's remark was not predicated on the color of the youngster who wore the costume. In an uncomfortable moment, Alito replied: "You do see a lot of Black kids dressed up like the Ku Klux Klan, right? Every single time.

This is the second instance in which a Christian owner of a business has asked the court not to perform a service for a same-sex wedding. In a different case involving Colorado's legislation and a baker named Jack Phillips, who opposed creating a wedding cake for a gay couple, the court heard it five years ago. A restricted ruling, in that case, brought the matter back before the top court. Phillips was also represented by Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom as Smith's legal counsel.

Smith's adversaries are among the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Biden administration. Colorado is supported by 20 generally liberal states, including California and New York, while 20 mostly Republican states support Smith.

Following Monday's oral arguments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the "administration believes that every person, regardless of their sex, colour, religion, or who they love," but she would not comment explicitly on the issue.

Interracial and same-sex marriage bill legislation is currently pending final approval

The same-sex and interracial marriage protection bill is presently awaiting final passage in Congress, according to the White House. It gained popularity after the Supreme Court abolished constitutional protections for abortion earlier this year. Questions arose after the 1973 Roe v. Wade judgment was reversed as to whether the court, which is now more conservative, would also reverse its decision establishing a federal right to same-sex marriage. Justice Clarence Thomas stated unequivocally that Obergefell v. Hodges should be reevaluated.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh questioned Smith's attorney Waggoner about what would occur if the court sided with her during Monday's arguments. He also cited a passage from her written argument before the high court, in which she claimed that Smith is an artist, as opposed to other businesspeople, such as hairdressers, landscapers, plumbers, caterers, tailors, jewelers, and restaurateurs, who typically do not convey a message through their work.

Waggoner suggested that if she prevails, she will pursue other lawsuits on behalf of people whose jobs require creative inspiration. I won't be returning with a caterer, she added.

Also Read: Newyork: Five women have filed a fresh sexual assault claim against Bill Cosby 

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