In Colorado, a state invaded by refugees from blue states, turning it purple of late, the state legislature passed a law that says merchants offering a service may not discriminate regarding who they serve.
That law restricts the ability of a “public accommodation” to turn away customers based on their identity, including sexual orientation, or even communicate an intent to offer unequal treatment on this basis. The law defines a public accommodation as a business that serves the public and is not principally used for religious purposes.
So, the question then is if the service requested violates an individual’s religious convictions, does the service still need to be rendered according to the law.
Although the designer’s anti-gay marriage stance is based on religious belief, the justices limited the case only to the free-speech implications of the Colorado law at issue, not the issue of religious liberty.
Smith’s proposed message read, in part, that due to her religious convictions, “I will not be able to create websites for same-sex marriages or any other marriage that is not between one man and one woman. Doing that would compromise my Christian witness and tell a story about marriage that contradicts God’s true story of marriage – the very story He is calling me to promote.”
A federal district court ruled against Smith. A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the lower court ruling, concluding that the First Amendment did not protect Smith’s plan to deny services or publish her intention to do so, prompting Smith’s appeal to the Supreme Court.
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