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US Presiding Bishop laments discrimination vote

06 July 2023

US Supreme Court rules Christian web designer had the right to refuse services to same-sex customers

Alamy

The website designer Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, waves to supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court after justices heard oral arguments on 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, last December

The website designer Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, waves to supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court after justices heard oral arguments on 30...

A RULING in the United States Supreme Court that a Christian web designer had the right to refuse services to same-sex customers, despite a state law forbidding discrimination, was a “moment of difficulty and darkness”, the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry, said in a statement of support for LGBTQ+ people at the weekend.

The Supreme Court ruled last Friday that Lorie Smith, a designer from Colorado, had, as part of her right to freedom of speech, a right under the Constitution’s First Amendment to refuse to endorse messages that she disagrees with. As a result, she cannot be held to account under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

“The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place, where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court.

The Supreme Court, shaped by Donald Trump’s conservative appointments, was split 6-3 in the vote. Justice Sonia Sotomayor read out her dissenting statement in court, saying that the decision was part of “a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities.

“Time and again, businesses and other commercial entities have claimed a constitutional right to discriminate, and time and again this court has courageously stood up to those claims. Until today. Today, this court shrinks,” she said.

Bishop Curry released a video message of support to the LGBTQ+ community, in which he compared the discrimination that they faced to the struggle to end the slave trade.

“This may feel like a moment of difficulty and darkness, and it is. And yet the work goes on. Our commitment to you as a Church is unswerving.

“I believe deep in my soul that God is always seeking to create a world and a society where all are loved, where justice is done, and where the God-given equality of us all is honoured in our relationships, in our social arrangements, and in law.

“This is a difficult time. I am mindful of another difficult time, in the 19th century, in the midst of the struggle — once again for human dignity and equality — in the midst of the struggle to bring chattel slavery in America to an end; in the midst of a century where this nation entered into a civil war; in the midst of a time when the Mexican-American war was tearing much of the country apart.”

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