Lorie Smith

Alliance Defending Freedom has trotted out new talking points for their latest client, Colorado web designer Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, who wants to make sure that she never has to design a website for a same-sex wedding. Thus far she has not been asked for those services — but just in case. Or is this just another pretext for expressing disapproval of gay people — all neatly cloaked in scripture? It’s also cloaked in some gassy prose. According to ADF:

Following the call of God on her life, Lorie Smith, who owns 303 Creative, a website design and marketing business, desires to use her artistic talents as a website and graphics designer to publicly proclaim and celebrate God’s design for marriage.

So Smith started a non-profit organization, dedicating any surpluses to Christian brides in Tuvalu who cannot afford a trousseau? No? So then prior to October 7, 2014 (when same-sex marriage was first recognized in Colorado), Smith had a thriving wedding clientele. No to that too? She displays 60 websites in her portfolio and she has been in business nearly five years. Where are all the weddings. Where is just one? Or is this just another pretext for expressing disapproval of gay people — all neatly cloaked in scripture? The author continues:

But Colorado officials’ peculiar interpretation of a state law stands squarely in her path. The law, which bars discrimination on the basis of several characteristics, including sexual orientation, should not pose any problems for Lorie because she decides what jobs to take based on their message, not any personal characteristic of a prospective client.

ADF’s Sarah Kramer wrote this nonsense. She is very young and presumably had some guidance. Smith might have to detail, under oath, which jobs she has turned down over the last nearly five years. More importantly, Colorado law is unambiguous.

It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation…

In all of the litigation that ADF has been involved in every court has concluded that turning down business associated with a same-sex wedding is because of sexual orientation. There is no other plausible explanation. Aside from the bigotry it is infuriating that this is all done at taxpayer expense while ADF lawyers have been free of sanctions. ADF continues:

But State officials have said, at least where speech unfavorable to same-sex marriage is concerned, that distinctions between message-based and person-based objections are irrelevant. Both are sexual orientation discrimination.

What does this mean for Lorie? If she follows her religious convictions and starts creating websites celebrating marriages between one man and one woman, she is required by law to also create websites celebrating same-sex marriages, which would violate her religious beliefs. The law does not stop there. It also makes it illegal for her to publicly explain her religious reasons for promoting only God’s design for marriage and for declining to promote any other type of marriage. That’s right – she cannot even express her religious beliefs on her own website.

This is just gibberish. This has nothing to do with speech. This relates to getting permission to refuse service to same-sex couples. Where are all the wedding websites that she created in three years prior to the recognition of same-sex marriage in Colorado? Or is this just another pretext for expressing disapproval of gay people — all neatly cloaked in scripture? Moreover, ADF knows perfectly well that de facto discrimination is prohibited. A restaurant with a sign saying that it doesn’t serve Jews is in the same legal peril as actually refusing service. Colorado defines this as:

…or indirectly, to publish, circulate, issue, display, post, or mail any written, electronic, or printed communication, notice, or advertisement that indicates that the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from, or denied an individual or that an individual’s patronage or presence at a place of public accommodation is unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry.

They continue:

There are significant consequences for violating the law. A single violation would subject Lorie to a costly and burdensome investigation, fines of up to $500, and oppressive mandates, like re-education training designed to compel her to agree with Colorado’s views on marriage and abandon her own.

Needless to say, “re-education training” appears nowhere in Colorado’s code in spite of ADF’s idiotic attempt to portray nondiscrimination laws as something comparable to North Korea’s regime. It is fair to presume that someone who violates the law might not understand the law. Training might be required in order that they fully understand what conduct is impermissible.

I have no pity for Ms. Smith but she will learn that ADF knows that they are going to lose this case (they have never won one like it). ADF is using Smith to raise money. Ultimately her business and her reputation will be in shambles while ADF will have prospered.

Smith’s clueless statement on her website is instructive:

Statement on Lawsuit:

Since filing a lawsuit to protect my First Amendment rights on September 20, I have been bombarded with many messages about my case. Some have been supportive, but many more have been hate-filled and deeply unsettling. I cannot possibly respond to every person who has reached out, but I nevertheless feel compelled to say a few things.

To the general public:

The messages I have received have shown that there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about the case. Please don’t believe everything you read or hear. Instead, find reputable sources of information about the case, review them, and make an informed judgment.

To my clients who have received harassing messages because of the lawsuit:

I am very sorry that some people are so intolerant of my beliefs – beliefs shared by many Jews, Muslims, Christians, and nonreligious people in this country and the throughout the world – as to harass you. As you know, I try to treat everyone with respect and I wish they would do the same. Please contact me if you have concerns.

To those who have filled my inbox with vile, hate-filled messages:

If we disagree, we should be able to do so civilly. That is the mark of a healthy and free society. And while I think people should always strive to treat each other with politeness and consideration, and speak in ways reflecting that, I will always affirm one’s right to freely speak. All I am asking for is that same freedom.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.