“Believe it or not the Supreme Court’s ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop might provide some advantages.”

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, discriminatory proprietors of Brush & Nib Studio which isn’t really a studio.

The Brush & Nib saga continues and it is a colossal waste of taxpayer funded resources. None of this would be possible were it not for the determined bigotry of Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT hate group.

Brush & Nib Studio designs wedding invitations. The City of Phoenix has a nondiscrimination ordinance assuring that LGBT patrons receive service in public accommodations. Brush & Nib have never been asked to provide an invitation for a same-sex wedding. They are seeking a permission slip to discriminate in spite of the fact that no gay couple is likely to patronize the business.

ADF challenged the Phoenix ordinance and lost. Last month they lost at the Arizona Court of Appeals. On Monday they filed an appeal with the Arizona Supreme Court.

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski are Christian artists. They own and operate Brush & Nib Studio, LC, a Phoenix art studio
where they create custom artwork—through painting, calligraphy, and handlettering—for
weddings and other occasions.

The “artistry” is grossly overstated. Personally, I am sick and tired of so-called Christian for-profit businesses and Christian business owners of for-profit enterprises. I am not suggesting that a nonprofit should be permitted to discriminate. It is just the hypocrisy of it all. I am also sick and tired of every shop owner proposing that they are some kind of artist. As much as I loathe slippery-slope arguments, I have to ask “who is not an artist?” A chef? The guy who makes an exquisite martini? In this case, most of what ADF claims as artistry is little more than font styling.

Believe it or not the Supreme Court’s ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop might provide some advantages. The very narrow — intentionally narrow — ruling never determined whether or not the baker is an artist whose speech was compelled. Rather, it determined that Colorado’s enforcement was invalid because of its hostility to religion (someone hurt Kennedy’s feelings).

The ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals came after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Masterpiece. They interpreted Masterpiece to affirm the constitutionality of nondiscrimination measures of states and municipalities. The Court of Appeals cited this part of the Masterpiece ruling:

Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. The exercise of their freedom on terms equal to others must be given great weight and respect by the courts. At the same time, the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression. As this Court observed in Obergefell v. Hodges, “[t]he First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Nevertheless, while those religious and philosophical objections are protected, it is a general rule that such objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.

In other words, Free Exercise of religion does not mean the freedom to discriminate in violation of applicable law. Well, in the appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, ADF claims that the Court of Appeals got it all wrong. ADF includes this infuriating passage in the new brief:

Joanna and Breanna gladly serve everyone. They “will happily sell their
pre-made works to anyone…for any event.”

Isn’t that nice of them to take our money when it suits them? They are willing to sell goods but not services. But there is a bigger problem because this is not a shop and ADF is full of crap. The only way to purchase pre-made goods is through Etsy.com which, by the way, has a fully inclusive nondiscrimination policy (I just sent them a little note).

ADF wants the Arizona Supreme Court to know just how much legal peril these two are in:

If Joanna and Breanna politely decline to create custom artwork celebrating
same-sex weddings or publish their desired statement, Phoenix will prosecute them
under Phoenix City Code § 18-4(B)—which carries penalties of up to six months
in jail and $2,500 in fines for each day they are found in violation. But the COA upheld this application as consistent with Arizona’s free-speech
and free-exercise protections.

There is no way to “politely” refuse service. One of WingNutDaily‘s imbeciles has a piece titled: WRITE AND WRONG: CALLIGRAPHERS FACE JAIL FOR REFUSING LGBT WEDDINGS.

Right. That imbecile is WND’s Bob Unruh. Some equally stupid person reading that headline might conclude that they have already been sentenced to a prison term in spite of the fact that they have never turned anyone away, let alone prosecuted.

In the end, ADF will probably lose and then appeal to the United States Supreme Court. If the Masterpiece ruling means anything the Court will decline to hear the case. Then again, if Kavanaugh replaces Kennedy (which seems likely) who knows? It is very depressing and frustrating. Some help from Comey and Putin and we got Trump and then Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. An unqualified president who probably colluded with Russian election tampering (his family certainly did) gets to decide the rights of LGBT persons to be free from discrimination.

Angry? Are you registered to vote in November?

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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.