Lawsuits involving gay plaintiffs and businesses in the wedding industry are plentiful these days. Usually these cases involve a jilted couple whose bakery, event destination or photographer wants no part of the nuptials for religious reasons.
But this time around, a pair of Phoenix calligraphers sued the city’s human rights ordinance, saying they have a right to turn down requests to create gay-themed custom-designed invites. The state Supreme court ruled in their favor on Monday.
How did the mainstream press respond? Did this story get covered as news or did it draw editorial lightning bolts and that’s that?
We’ll start with the Arizona Republic’s news story with the headline: Phoenix artists don’t have to make LGBTQ wedding invitations, Arizona Supreme Court rules.”
A Phoenix ordinance that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination cannot be used to force artists to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday. The high court’s decision overturns multiple lower-court decisions that protected the portion of Phoenix’s nondiscrimination ordinance that applies to the LGBTQ community. An attorney for Phoenix insisted that the ruling was narrow and did not strike down the city law. Rather, the court ruled that “one company” could refuse to make “one type of product” for LGBTQ couples, he said.
“Today’s decision is not a win, but it is not a loss. It means we will continue to have a debate over equality in this community,” Mayor Kate Gallego said. However, LGBTQ community advocates fear that the decision, however narrow, creates a pathway for other lawsuits. “This decision opens the door for other bigoted owners to outright discriminate against LGBTQ people for who we are and who we love,” Brianna Westbrook, vice-chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, tweeted after the ruling.
Not only are the plaintiffs not even mentioned until one-third of the way through the piece, there is no reaction from conservative First Amendment groups.
The only POVs provided are from left of center. The plaintiffs’ attorney did get four paragraphs closer to the bottom of the piece.
The key point: Does the story separate a blanket refusal to do business with LGBTQ citizens from a refusal to create artistic materials linked to a specific rite that — think Religious Freedom Restoration Act language — violated the conscience of the artist?
(Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jonathan ) Scruggs said the women happily would sell their premade invitations to a same-sex couple, or help a same-sex couple design a custom art piece for their home. They just don’t want to create materials that will be used in the celebration of a practice they don’t condone.
He equated his argument to a Muslim designer declining to make Easter decorations, but still serving Christian customers with other services. He said business owners can serve all members of the community without celebrating things they disagree with.
In case readers didn’t get the strong message that newspaper disagreed with the ruling, there was an opinion piece about the case that ran elsewhere in the paper with this headline: The Arizona Supreme Court just gave ‘devout’ bigots the OK to discriminate.”
There is no conservative rebuttal to this piece. The writer crassly identifies the defendants positions with something approaching the Ku Klux Klan: