‘Artists shouldn’t be forced under threat of fines and jail time to create artwork contrary to their core convictions…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) In light of the recent Supreme Court Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, two Arizona-based artists are fighting a state law that would force them to use their creative talents to promote same-sex marriage.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski run Brush and Nib Studio in Phoenix, which specializes in “creating custom hand-painted and hand-lettered designs to announce and commemorate life’s important moments,” according to its website.
They took pre-emptive legal action against the city of Phoenix last October because they feared they would be forced to use their studio to create art that celebrated same-sex couples.
The Phoenix Municipal Code prohibits businesses from offering “accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges…because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability nor shall distinction be made…in connection with the price or quality of any item, goods or services offered by or at any place of public accommodation.”
Duka and Koski said that although a same-sex couple has not approached Brush and Nib Studio asking for custom artwork, they would like to post a note on their website explaining their religious convictions to avoid future conflict.
But the municipal code also includes a clause that prevents businesses from displaying their beliefs in a way “which states or implies that any facility or service shall be refused or restricted…or that any person, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability would be unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, undesirable or not solicited.”
Duka and Koski took the city to court to ensure their religious beliefs would not be violated.
But an Arizona court upheld the ordinance, saying Brush and Nib Studio can post a statement that expresses their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, but they cannot imply that same-sex couples are unwelcome.
After the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, however, Duka and Koski hope the state court’s ruling will be overturned.
In its decision, the Court reaffirmed that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
“Artists shouldn’t be forced under threat of fines and jail time to create artwork contrary to their core convictions. The court’s decision allows the government to compel two artists who happily serve everyone to convey a message about marriage they disagree with,” Jonathan Scruggs, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Duka and Koski, said in a statement. “This contradicts basic freedoms our nation has always cherished.”