Rochester reacts to Supreme Court ruling that business can decline to work with same-sex couples

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We’re hearing reaction from Rochester’s LGBTQ community following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Christian website designer Lorie Smith, who did not want to design websites for same-sex weddings.

In 2016, the designer and founder of 303 Creative in Colorado, filed a lawsuit, with the goal of protecting First Amendment rights.

Her website reads, “Because of my faith, I am selective about the messages I create or promote … I am careful to avoid communicating ideas or messages, inconsistent with my religious beliefs.”

After seven years, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled in favor of that creator. The court said forcing her to create the websites would violate her free speech rights under the Constitution’s First Amendment.

Some are calling it discrimination. Others, say it’s a win for free speech.

It’s a decision affecting the rest of the country, causing reaction from people like Andrew Moran, in Rochester’s LGBTQ community. Moran is board president with Rochester Rainbow Union.

“Personally, I do view it as discrimination; the purpose of someone going into business is to serve all people,” he said.

Moran has been following this news for a long time, waiting for a decision.

“I definitely see it as a slippery slope,” he said. “Yes, it’s about creative things and what they can talk about in terms of freedom of speech and all of that — but this really impacts a lot of people, especially in rural areas, where they may only have one provider for something.”

At the same time, some religious individuals are speaking out, calling the news a reason to celebrate.

A full statement from Jason McGuire with New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, on Friday, reads:

“Today, in a decision we celebrate, the Supreme Court of the United States correctly ruled that a Colorado law that purports to require a Christian web designer to provide websites for same-sex ‘wedding’ ceremonies violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

“The Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis is a relief for Christian-owned businesses across the United States. Over the past decade, pro-LGBT activists and their allies have used antidiscrimination laws to punish Christians — including photographers, a baker, a florist, and an event hall owner, among others — who, based on their sincerely-held convictions, declined to participate in same-sex ceremonies. Laws against discrimination are supposed to be used as shields to protect people from mistreatment, not as swords to attack people for what they believe. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms thanks Lorie Smith of 303 Creative LLC and her attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom for taking a brave stand against the bullies in legislatures and attorneys generals’ offices who have sought to impose their militant agenda at the expense of free speech and religious liberty.”

Full statement from Governor Kathy Hochul:

“I am disgusted that the assault on human rights by the Supreme Court continues. This decision — released on the final day of Pride Month — to roll back the rights of LGBTQ+ couples will be devastating to people across the country who are simply looking to love the person they choose. Here in New York, the birthplace of the modern movement for LGBTQ+ equality, we remain committed to implementing laws and policies that protect this community. We will never stop fighting for equality.”