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Compels Assent To “Same-Sex Marriage”… Art Studio Plans Appeal Against Judge’s Ruling

November 14, 2017 Frontpage No Comments


PHOENIX — It wasn’t so long ago that believers in traditional marriage were chastised this way: “How does my gay love hurt you? We just want to be left alone.”
That wasn’t a sincere argument but only a stratagem prior to compelling the traditionalists themselves to surrender to the continuing takeover of society by same-sex authoritarians.
An early warning was when the Obama administration started trying to rewrite the Constitution’s explicit First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion to mean only “freedom of worship” — that is, praying as you please under the roof of a church, but being forced to follow immoral government mandates outside, like paying for abortion drugs for strangers.
Forcing others to honor the historically unsupported, serious aberration of “same-sex marriage” is another step to crush the conscience of anyone who’d dare disagree. This effort springs up in state after state with legal hocus-pocus claiming that judges simply are opposing “discrimination” practiced by such merchants as Christian bakers and florists.
No one would think it remarkable if, for instance, a strong Democratic Party member and bakeshop owner declined a customer who wanted a cake decorated with a message that “Democrats are demons,” or if a homosexual florist refused to provide an arrangement styled to attack gay activists. But faithful Christians are ordered to violate their consciences or pay a severe price.
A current example concerns two Christian artists in Phoenix whose civil-liberties “pre-enforcement” lawsuit was brushed aside by a Superior Court judge here on October 24. Their lead counsel in the case told The Wanderer that an appeal is planned before Thanksgiving to the state appellate court.
An October 25 news release from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the national religious-liberty organization representing the artists, said the judge’s ruling “allows a sweeping Phoenix ordinance to stand even though it uses the threat of jail time and fines to silence their desired speech, and forces them to create custom artwork expressing messages that violate their core beliefs.”
Calligrapher Joanna Duka and painter Breanna Koski own Brush & Nib Studio, which specializes in hand-painting, hand-lettering, and calligraphy for weddings and other occasions including baby showers, births, and anniversaries, as well as business cards, logos, signs, and stationery.
The ADF news release said: “The women’s deeply held religious beliefs guide them in determining which messages they can and cannot promote through their commissioned artwork. The city’s ordinance forces them to use their artistic talents to celebrate and promote same-sex marriages in violation of their beliefs.
“It also bans them from publicly communicating their Christian belief that God designed marriage as a union between one man and woman and how those beliefs affect the artwork they can create,” the release said.
The women hadn’t been charged with a violation yet, but filed the pre-enforcement lawsuit to ask for “clarity” about their potential for violations and subjecting themselves to penalties.
Lead counsel Jonathan Scruggs, of ADF, told The Wanderer that pre-enforcement suits aren’t unusual, and often are filed by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
Similar to other cases of alleged discrimination by Christian merchants, this painter and calligrapher aren’t refusing to serve customers with a homosexual orientation. However, they decline to “create objectionable art…based on the art’s message,” the ADF release said, adding:
“If Duka and Koski publicly explain their position on marriage and how that position affects their artwork, they risk up to six months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and three years of probation for each day they violate the ordinance.”
Scruggs told The Wanderer, “Joanna and Breanna love their customers and clients. . . . They can’t just promote a message that violates their belief.”
The Christian faith that guides their attitudes on marriage is “the same faith that leads them to love and respect their customers,” Scruggs said.
Public-accommodations laws of the sort at issue here “often have good purposes,” but “they’re expanded over time” to apply in inapplicable ways, he said.
Scruggs noted the legal trend to constrict the practice of religious belief so that “you’re free to talk to other people within your church walls,” but this narrowed view isn’t what the First Amendment intended.
The October 24 ruling against the artists by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins contains the sort of prevarication that drives frustrated voters to a candidate like Donald Trump.
The court finds, Mullins wrote, “that the governmental interest in eliminating discrimination by businesses is unrelated to the suppression of free expression. Indeed, the government’s interest is (sic) rooting out discrimination is wholly unrelated to the First Amendment, and the antidiscrimination terms of the ordinance apply to all places of public accommodation regardless of what particular goods or services are sold.”
In language that strongly echoes Obama administration advocacy of restricting religious conscience, Mullins wrote (grammatical errors included — editor):
“The facts here do not involve any kind of religious worship as contemplated by the Free Exercise Clause….Nothing about the ordinance has prevented the plaintiffs from participating in the customs of their religious beliefs or has burdened the practice of their religion in any way.
“The printing of same-sex persons names on wedding invitations does not hinder in any way plaintiffs independent exercise of its religious belief by attending the church of their choice, engaging in religious activities or functions, and expressing their beliefs on their business website and literature or in their personal lives,” she wrote.
“Indeed, as this court has already ruled, plaintiffs are free to publish their religious beliefs so long as they do not state or imply that same-sex couples are unwelcome as customers,” Mullins held, adding later:
“Plaintiffs have failed to assert even an incidental burden on the exercise of their religion, and certainly cannot establish a substantial burden.”
Anyway, she wrote earlier in the decision, same-sex wedding materials would be only a small part of their business.
The judge might ask herself if her own conscience would find it acceptable to issue merely one unjust ruling out of 50 decisions, using self-justifying reasoning that the other 49 are honest decisions. Indeed, this ruling shows she is at home with unjust decisions.
Aside from “the hand-lettering and art on wedding invitations meant for same-sex couples,” she wrote, “The remainder of their business is wholly unaffected. So even the impact of the ordinance on these plaintiffs is itself incidental; while they may not refuse to sell to same-sex couples or publish that intent, the remainder of their sales are not at all impacted.”
The judge seems to have forgotten that selling goods to homosexuals isn’t the issue; it’s the government-compelled assent to honoring judicially invented “same-sex marriage.”
This ordinance, she said, “does not pose inherent dangers to free expression or present the potential for censorship or manipulation….”
ADF attorney Scruggs told The Wanderer that “we’re excited about presenting our arguments” to the Arizona appellate court, seeking “to protect the rights of all Arizonans” against having “to express messages that go against the core of who they are.”

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