Supreme Court Sides With Anti-Gay Wedding Website Designer in Another Blow to Equality

Feature image photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Well, happy Independence Day weekend, you guys! Yesterday, the Supreme Court ended Affirmative Action, and today they’ve struck down President Biden’s student debt relief plan and ruled in favor of a wedding web designer who doesn’t want to make sites for gay couples! Let’s do fireworks! Yay, America!

In a 6-3 ruling, split evenly on ideological lines, the conservative bloc of SCOTUS judges agreed that evangelical Christian graphic artist Lori Smith from Colorado does not have to create content for same-sex couples, even though Colorado has anti-discrimination laws in place for such a thing. If a business owner or contractor believes same-sex marriage is “false,” the court said, they would have to create speech they don’t believe to work for LGBTQ people. Therefore, discrimination is their first amendment right.

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch said: “The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands. Colorado seeks to deny that promise.” He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissent, and was joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson. “Today the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” Sotomayor wrote. “Today is a sad day in American constitutional law and in the lives of LGBT people.”

She added: “Around the country, there has been a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities. New forms of inclusion have been met with reactionary exclusion. This is heartbreaking. Sadly, it is also familiar. When the civil rights and women’s rights movements sought equality in public life, some public establishments refused. Some even claimed, based on sincere religious beliefs, constitutional rights to discriminate. The brave Justices who once sat on this Court decisively rejected those claims.”

As NPR notes, SCOTUS has been sidestepping these kinds of gay wedding cases for years, but in an “unusually aggressive move,” the conservative supermajority agreed to decide this case — which wasn’t even based on actual discrimination, but on the idea that a gay couple might try to employ the services of designer Lori Smith — and set a precedent for the 29 other states that have laws requiring businesses open to the public to serve everyone, regardless or race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.

This court’s recent decisions, including overturning Roe v. Wade, have compelled Democrats and liberals to begin demanding an end to lifetime SCOTUS appointments, an expanded court, and a binding code of ethics. If that doesn’t happen, it’s not hard to imagine a time in the near future when even marriage equality will be back on the table.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Conservatives/Republicans: Let the states decide!

    (Conservative) SCOTUS: Clearly the states cannot be trusted to uphold constitutional rights


    You can’t have your cake and eat it too, y’all

  2. We who do not live in the US watch what is going on with great worry. Not just for you in the US, but for all the other countries, who have always been influenced by US policy. Usually every political development has reached us, with some years delay, and some local adaptations.

    • It’s coming for us too. The US has exported its “culture wars” worldwide, their Christofascists bankrolling Anti-LGBT+ laws and politicians, their Andr*w T*tes and St*ven Cr*wders and M*tt W*she’s unleashed on the Internet with nothing stopping their hatred – US owned social media companies (never forget that the biggest ones are US born and raised) allowing it all to fester and multiply.

      The rest of the world will be taking note and probably interested to push it on to the next level, each individual country already has an anti-LGBT+ history as they look to reactivate their own hatred.

  3. Please note that the age groups most resistant to trans rights are the older ones, specifically late Baby Boomers and early Gen-Xers. I believe that a significant portion of the apparent shift towards conservatism in polls is due to conservatives becoming more vocal on this issue as attacks against it have increased.

    Early Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation have been historically noted for their relatively more liberal views on LGBTQ rights compared to their immediate successors. One’s stance on gay issues often differs depending on whether they were 9 or 19 years old in 1969. Additionally, the experiences of the Silent Generation during World War 2 may have made them more aware of the dangers of demonization and scapegoating.

    I also agree with the comments that suggest that, on the whole, Americans are becoming more supportive of transgender people. Attitudes are evolving in a positive direction, except in the context of transgender women in sports, where misinformation seems to have taken hold, and there’s a deeply ingrained cultural assumption that “male” bodies are physically superior to “female” bodies.more information:-

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