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Colorado’s Creative Professionals Are All Threatened by This Law

January 24, 2019

Graphic designer Lorie Smith has followed Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips’ case with concern for several years, watching it make its way through the court system all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a Christian creative professional who also lives in Colorado, she knows the outcome of Jack’s case could also impact her artistic and religious freedom. It’s what has kept her from expanding her business the past few years.

Last year, she decided to do more than wait and watch.

She filed a lawsuit against the state in 2016, challenging the law that has silenced her and stunted her business growth. Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit this week, after another court ruled earlier this year that she could not challenge the Colorado rule at the center of her – and Jack’s – case.

Lorie owns graphic design studio 303 Creative and specializes in creating and designing custom websites, which include customized text, graphics, images, and other content that promote ideas, events, or organizations. Owning her own business has allowed Lorie to take on the projects she feels passionate about and those that line up with her beliefs. In fact, she often does work for churches and religious organizations.

The past few years, though, Lorie has wanted to expand her business into the wedding industry. She wants to design custom wedding websites that proclaim and celebrate the beauty of marriage as God designed it – as the lifelong union between one man and one woman.

But a Colorado law is being interpreted to require Lorie to use her artistic talents to promote same-sex marriages if she promotes marriages between one man and one woman. The law even prohibits her from publicly explaining her religious beliefs about marriage on her website.

On top of that, violating the law means costly and burdensome investigations, fines of up to $500 for each violation, and oppressive mandates, like re-education training designed to compel Lorie to agree with Colorado’s views on marriage.

Lorie has watched as this law has been enforced against Jack. (Because Jack declined to use his artistic talents to design a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding, the State of Colorado demanded that he “re-educate” his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop – mostly his family – on the definition of marriage.)

Because of this, Lorie has kept out of the wedding industry for fear that she would be punished. The result of this Colorado law has been to silence people who hold dissenting viewpoints on marriage.

This Colorado law is similar to many others across the country, and ADF is defending a number of creative professionals against such assaults on their freedom. ADF has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold religious and artistic freedom by ruling in Jack’s favor, and we will continue to litigate on behalf of these artists. Securing these freedoms for them means securing them for us all.


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