The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 in favor of Brush & Nib Studio, a Phoenix-based invitation design house that refused to create wedding invitations for same-sex couples.
Wrote Justice Andrew Gould, for the court’s majority: “The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person’s home or church, or private conversations with like-minded friends and family. These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs. With these fundamental principles in mind, today we hold that the City of Phoenix … cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance … to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, LC (“Brush & Nib”), to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. Duka, Koski, and Brush & Nib (“Plaintiffs”) have the right to refuse to express such messages under article 2, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution, as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act (“FERA”), A.R.S. § 41-1493.01.”
The high court overruled an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling in July 2018 that Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix must serve gay couples in response to the lawsuit, brought by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, the studio’s owners, who had not been asked to provide services by any gay couples, but were trying to preemptively assert their right to deny service on the basis of religious beliefs.
The Phoenix Business Journal reported: “Filed in 2016, the suit alleged that the non-discrimination order would force them to provide services would violate their freedoms of speech and conflict with their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. Duka and Koski had attempted to override a city ordinance that protects LGBT people from discrimination. Filed in 2016, the suit alleged that the non-discrimination order would force them to provide services would violate their freedoms of speech and conflict with their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”