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Colorado woman files federal suit claiming state law inhibits right to deny business to gay couples

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Posted at 10:15 PM, Sep 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 04:34:33-04

DENVER – A Christian woman claims Colorado law violates her ability to deny business to supporters of same-sex marriage and has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the laws on the basis they violate the U.S. Constitution.

Lorie Smith, who owns 303 Creative LLC, a graphic and web design company based in the Denver area, filed the suit Tuesday in Colorado’s U.S. District Court.

Read the lawsuit in full by clicking here.

She claims that Colorado law that says refusing people services on the basis of sexual orientation, among other reasons, is unconstitutional and violates her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Smith would like to use her business “to celebrate and promote God’s design for marriage as an institution between one man and one woman,” according to the suit, and claims her inability to say so on her website because of the state laws violates her rights.

However, her website already says so in as many words, despite the lawsuit saying she “is refraining” from expressing her views.

“My primary objective is to design and create expressive content,” her website reads. “Because of my faith, however, I am selective about the messages that I create or promote – while I will serve anyone I am always careful to avoid communicating ideas or messages, or promoting events, products, services, or organizations, that are inconsistent with my religious beliefs.”

The suit continually cites Bible passages and says Smith “believes that God is calling her to promote and celebrate His design for marriage…between one man and one woman only.”

Violations of the Colorado statute could lead to fines of up to $500 per case, though there has been no indication from the Colorado Civil Rights Division or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which are both defendants in the suit, that she has ever been hit or threatened with one.

The suit, which was brought by attorneys for the Arizona-based group Alliance Defending Freedom, as well as Denver lawyer Michael L. Francisco, even cites the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Obergefell v. Hodges, arguing the decision reinforces the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of “choices that define their personal identity and beliefs.”

It also cites prior cases in Colorado involving different bakeries that either denied a gay couple service or denied an antagonist of same-sex marriage service, saying the Civil Rights Division and Commission muddied the Colorado statutes they enforce.

Smith’s attorneys said she would not be speaking to the media on the matter.

But Freedom for All Coloradans said the lawsuit was another attempt to undermine the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Allowing business owners to refuse service to customers whom they dislike, or disapprove, will open a can of worms and make it more difficult to enforce Colorado’s laws that ensure businesses are open to everyone.”

The case has yet to be scheduled on the court’s docket.

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