The 10th Circuit's Court of Appeal has ruled 2-1 that Colorado can require a local web designer to create content that is a breach of her religious convictions.
In 2016, web designer Lorie Smith filed a lawsuit in the 10th US District Court in partnership with Alliance Defending Freedom. The case argued that Smith and her company, 303 Creative, had a constitutional right to abstain from creating websites or content related to LGBTQ marriages. For Smith, this belief is driven primarily by her religious convictions. However, doing so was understood as a violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. While cases like Smith's are not uncommon, Smith's case stands out in part because she has not received any negative complaints or legal filings against her name. As of the time of her lawsuit, Smith had not begun to sell wedding services.
In a September 2017 ruling, a District judge wrote that: "This Court finds that Ms. Smith's statement proposes an unlawful act because it proposes to do something — deny services to same-sex couples — that a different statute, the Accommodations Clause, prohibits." In May 2019, the court dismissed Smith's case that the state had not taken action against Smith. Therefore her lawsuit was illegitimate.
On Monday, the Appeals Court in the 10th District ruled 2-1 that the State of Colorado can "permissibly compel" Smith and 303 Creative to create websites for homosexual and heterosexual marriages. Smith would be required, by law, to either make websites for both homosexual and heterosexual weddings or not make websites for weddings at all.
According to ADF Senior Counsel John Bursch, the decision is unprecedented. "How many more creative professionals will have to suffer before they receive recognition of their constitutionally protected freedoms—the rights they have always had in this country?" Bursch argues in an ADF press release. "Lorie is happy to design websites for all people; she simply objects to being forced to pour her heart, imagination, and talents into messages that violate her conscience. For that reason, we intend to appeal the 10th Circuit's decision."