Phoenix Artists Can Refuse to Make Wedding Invitations for Same Sex Couples, Arizona Supreme Court Rules

Joanna Duka, front left, and Breanna Koski, front right.
Image: AP

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Phoenix can’t require two Christian artists to make wedding invitations for same-sex couples.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski argued earlier this year that a Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance—which makes it illegal to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons—was a violation of their freedom of speech. On Monday, the court agreed, siding with Duka and Koski by a margin of 4-3:

“Duka and Koski’s beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some,” the court majority wrote. “But the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.”

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In a dissent, the court’s minority said the case is discriminatory.

“Today’s decision is also deeply troubling because its reasoning cannot be limited to discrimination related to same-sex marriage or based on the beliefs of any one religion, but instead extends more broadly to other claims of a ‘right’ by businesses to deny services to disfavored customers,” the opinion states.

Fortunately, the ruling is limited to only this particular case, and does not represent a blanket exemption.

“The Arizona Supreme Court made a very narrow ruling that one local business has the right to refuse to make custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples’ weddings that are similar to the designer’s previous products, spokesperson Julie Waters told Courthouse News Service. “This ruling does not apply to any other business in Phoenix.”

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In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court similarly sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, though that decision did not address the larger issue of whether a business can turn down customers on the basis of religious objection.

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