As we wrap up 2019, we at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have much to be grateful for. We’re especially thankful for you, our Ministry Friends. You’ve made several key victories possible in this past year, especially on the issue of free speech for people of faith.
Here are some of the biggest wins you’ve made possible in 2019:
1. The State of Colorado Finally Ended Its Crusade Against Jack Phillips
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips. The Supreme Court rebuked Colorado officials who acted with hostility toward Jack for declining to celebrate events that violate his religious beliefs. But then, mere weeks later, state officials went after Jack again. Thankfully, in March, Colorado ended its legal battle with Jack after ADF attorneys uncovered even more evidence of bias against religious liberty on the part of state officials. Thanks to your steadfast support, Jack Phillips prevailed a second time!
2. Ohio City Halts Enforcing Law that would have Forced Catholic School to Violate Beliefs
The city of South Euclid, Ohio passed a law which added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under law. Right away, the Lyceum, a local Catholic school, recognized that this ordinance infringed on its freedom to operate consistently with its faith. The law could have required the Lyceum to hire those who disagreed with its core beliefs on marriage and sexuality or risk fines and jail time. Thankfully, in April, the Lyceum challenged the law in court, and in May, the city officially clarified that the law would not apply to the school.
3. Minnesota Filmmakers Win in Federal Court
Filmmakers Carl and Angel Larsen own Telescope Media Group, a Minnesota-based video production company that exists to tell great stories that honor God. The Larsens wanted to use their filmmaking to promote their religious beliefs about marriage. But according to Minnesota officials, the state’s Human Rights Act mandates that if the Larsens created films celebrating marriage between one man and one woman, they must also create films about marriage that violate their beliefs.
Knowing their religious freedom could be violated, Carl and Angel filed a lawsuit. Their case was dismissed by a lower court. But in August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reinstated the Larsens’ case and ruled that the state can’t force the Larsens to express messages through their films that violate their religious convictions. This was a huge win for the First Amendment!
4. Conservative Consulting Firm Secures Freedom to Promote its Values
Grant Strobl and Jacob Chludzinski met in college and, together, formed ThinkRight Strategies. ThinkRight is a political consulting firm that partners with political candidates and organizations to promote messages, policies, and causes that advance Grant and Jacob’s conservative principles. But a law in Ann Arbor, Michigan made it illegal for businesses to “discriminate” based on “political beliefs.” If applied to ThinkRight, the law would require Grant and Jacob to create advocacy materials promoting causes they strongly oppose—like socialism and abortion—because they create advocacy materials promoting their conservative beliefs.
After ADF filed a lawsuit, the city of Ann Arbor declared in September that it would not force Grant and Jacob to promote political beliefs that go against their own.
5. Artists Win Huge Free Speech Victory at Arizona Supreme Court
After meeting at a church group, Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski formed Brush & Nib Studio, where they use their hand-painting and hand-lettering skills to create beautiful custom artwork for clients. While Joanna and Breanna serve everyone, they cannot create custom artwork promoting certain messages. But a city of Phoenix law threatened jail time if they politely declined to hand-create artwork promoting messages that violate their religious beliefs about marriage.
Thankfully, on September 16, the Arizona Supreme Court upheld Joanna and Breanna’s freedom of speech and religion. This was a huge milestone in the fight for creative professionals’ right to speak freely.
6. New York City Repeals Law That Would Have Censored Psychotherapist
Dr. Dovid Schwartz is a member of the Lubavitcher Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York. As a psychotherapist, Dr. Schwartz has served thousands of patients for over 40 years—the majority of whom share his faith.
In 2018, the New York City Council adopted a law which made it illegal for any person to provide services for a fee that “seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or to change a person’s gender identity.” This meant that if Dr. Schwartz assisted a patient who desired to reduce same-sex attraction or achieve comfort in a gender identity that matches his or her physical body, he could be threatened with fines up to $10,000.
Thankfully, on September 25, after ADF argued for an injunction against the law in federal district court, but before the court had time to rule, the Council passed a bill repealing the law.
7. Anchorage Finally Ends Legal Battle, Allowing Women’s Shelter to Keep Its Doors Open
The Downtown Hope Center serves the homeless population of Anchorage, Alaska. During the day, the Christian nonprofit offers job skills training, daily meals, laundry, and clothing for both men and women in need. But, at night, the Hope Center keeps its overnight shelter women’s-only. That is because many of the homeless women they serve are survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse and feel uncomfortable sleeping mere feet away from a man.
After an incident in 2018, city officials twisted a law in an attempt to force the Hope Center to admit biological men into its overnight shelter. The Hope Center was forced to choose between protecting the vulnerable women in its care or shutting its doors.
In November of 2018, the Hope Center filed a lawsuit against the city and in September of this year, the city officially ended its battle against the shelter.
8. Blaine Adamson Wins at the Kentucky Supreme Court
For over seven years, Kentucky printshop owner Blaine Adamson had battled in court for the right to run his business consistently with his beliefs. He faced many challenges: boycotts against his promotional printing company, Hands On Originals; hateful emails, phone calls, and Facebook comments; and large customers pulling their business.
But this past October, Blaine received a big win when the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in his favor!
9. ADF Receives 10th Victory from the U.S. Supreme Court
In 2019, ADF received its 10th victory from the United States Supreme Court since 2011! ADF Attorneys teamed up with another top law firm to represent voters in the state of Alaska against an unfair law. The Alaska law limits voters to contributing a maximum of $500 to a political candidate or group. This restricts freedom of speech and association in violation of the First Amendment. But on November 25, the Supreme Court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to uphold the law.
From Christian filmmakers in Minnesota to a Jewish psychotherapist in New York City, your support of ADF has helped achieve major victories in 2019.
Thanks to God’s blessing and your support, we are showing up to fight for our freedoms of speech and religion—and we’re winning. None of this would be possible without your support and prayers. Thank you for all you have done for ADF in 2019!