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Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Wedding Services

The Court's liberal justices warn that this ruling effectively marks the LGBTQIA+ community for "second-class status."
Alicia Maule
July 3, 2023

In a recent development that underscores the shift in the Supreme Court's ideological balance, the Court's conservative majority has ruled that a Christian graphic artist providing (in this instance, hypothetical) wedding website design services can refuse to work with same-sex couples. The Court's liberal justices warn that this ruling effectively marks the LGBTQIA+ community for "second-class status," opening the door to further potential discrimination.

In a 6-3 decision, the Court sided with designer Lorie Smith, granting her the right to decline to design websites for same-sex weddings despite a Colorado law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other attributes. The Court argued that compelling Smith to create such websites would infringe on her First Amendment rights of free speech.

This ruling suggests that those offering "expressive services" – such as artists, photographers, writers, and videographers – can refuse service if it conflicts with their beliefs. However, this ruling does not extend to businesses not engaged in speech, such as restaurants and hotels.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the conservative majority, upheld the First Amendment's provision of the freedom for every individual in the United States to think and express as they wish, not as mandated by the government.

Although this ruling is a victory for religious rights, continuing a series of recent cases in which the Court has favored religious plaintiffs, it represents a retreat on LGBTQIA+ rights for the Court. The Supreme Court has previously expanded LGBTQIA+ rights, most notably granting the right to marry to same-sex couples in 2015 and protecting gay, lesbian, and transgender people from employment discrimination in a 2020 decision.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor led the dissenting liberal justices, cautioning that this ruling might pave the way for various forms of discrimination by businesses. She expressed concern that the Court was, for the first time, giving a business serving the public a constitutional right to deny service to members of a protected class.

Despite setbacks, the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights must continue. At Givepact, we believe that equality for all should be our collective goal. However, this Supreme Court decision serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges to this ideal.

In the face of this ruling, the role of nonprofits working to protect and advance LGBTQIA+ rights becomes even more critical. Through Givepact, you can support these organizations and help in the battle for equality.

Crypto donations through Givepact not only fund vital initiatives, but they also make a powerful statement about the significance of standing up for LGBTQIA+ rights.

Let's unite in the face of this challenging ruling to support LGBTQIA+ equality. 

Here is a list of Givepact Partners organizations that you can support right now to foster a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable world.