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Supreme Court Hears LGBTQ+ Rights Case From Antigay Business Owner

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The Supreme Court Monday will hear an important LGBTQ+ rights case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, which turns on the question of whether a business owner has the right to turn away same-sex couples because of her beliefs about the nature of marriage.Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative LLC in Colorado, wants to expand her wedding business but says serving same-sex couples would violate her conservative Christian beliefs and her free speech rights.

She filed suit in 2016 challenging Colorado’s LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law. She lost at the federal district court and appeals court levels.

The Supreme Court agreed in February to hear her case but only on the free speech claim.Elenis is Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which enforces the state’s antidiscrimination law.

Smith filed her case before the state attempted to enforce the law against her. No state agency has ever investigated her, officials said in court filings, and it appears she’s never been asked to create a wedding site for a same-sex couple.There is a “common-law tradition” of requiring businesses to serve all customers without discrimination, Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson wrote in a brief to the Supreme Court. “Allowing a business to refuse service because of who these customers are would break from this tradition and deny them full participation in the marketplace,” he said.Smith, meanwhile, contends that applying the antidiscrimination law would force her to create messages that go against her beliefs.

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