The Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of a “Christian” web designer in Colorado who refuses to create websites to celebrate same-sex weddings out of religious objections.
The 6-3 decision was authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned a dissent joined by her liberal colleagues Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
The court’s conservative-led decision represents a devastating blow to LGBTQ protections, which have in recent years been bolstered by landmark decisions at the nation’s highest court.
In her dissent, Sotomayor said the decision will undermine the government’s compelling interest in ensuring that all Americans have equal access to the public marketplace.
“Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” she wrote.
“Specifically, the Court holds that the First Amendment exempts a website design company from a state law that prohibits the company from denying wedding websites to same-sex couples if the company chooses to sell those websites to the public,” she wrote.
Sotomayor called this a “sad day in American constitutional law and the lives of LGBT people.”
“By issuing this new license to discriminate in a case brought by a company that seeks to deny same-sex couples the full and equal enjoyment of its services, the immediate, symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second-class status,” she wrote in dissent.
She said the “decision itself inflicts a kind of stigmatic harm, on top of any harm caused by denials of service.”
“The opinion of the Court is, quite literally, a notice that reads: ‘Some services may be denied to same-sex couples.’”
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette for Colorado’s 1st congressional district called the ruling disgusting in a Friday tweet: “This is disgusting. The GOP-backed extremists on the U.S. Supreme Court just legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and took a sledgehammer to the very notion of equality in this country. This is not who we are as a country. We are so much better than this.”
This is disgusting. The GOP-backed extremists on the U.S. Supreme Court just legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and took a sledgehammer to the very notion of equality in this country.
This is not who we are as a country. We are so much better than this.
— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) June 30, 2023
Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic instructor and trans rights advocate Alejandra Caraballo posted a “No Gays Allowed” sign on Twitter to express dismay at the ruling.
“The Supreme Court just made this legal for ‘creative professions’ to put up on their windows in 303 Creative,” she wrote.
The Supreme Court just made this legal for "creative professions" to put up on their windows in 303 Creative. pic.twitter.com/Szygf4UcRZ
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) June 30, 2023
Today’s LGBTQ+ ruling is an embarrassment to our country on a global stage. A public business can now refuse service to a protected class effectively making LGBTQ+ second class citizens.
SCOTUS legalized discrimination today.
And all in the name of a fake request.
— Kerry Donovan (@KerryDonovanCO) June 30, 2023