City Ordinance Strips Artists of Right to Freedom of Opinion

Marriage-Alliance-Right-Freedom-Opinion.pngSame-sex marriage advocates will tell you that nothing will happen if the definition of marriage is redefined. Since same-sex marriage was legalised in the US, many people – especially artists, bakers and marriage celebrants – have experienced the opposite. 

The situation of two artists at the “Brush and Nib Studio” in Phoenix, Arizona illustrates some of the restrictions that could follow the legalisation of same-sex marriage. An article in The Federalist explains these women’s quandary in detail: 

[Shortly] after starting their business, Joanna and Breanna discovered that Phoenix law requires them to create art endorsing same-sex wedding ceremonies because they create art for opposite-sex wedding ceremonies.

So restrictive are the laws in Arizona that the owners were not permitted to warn customers in advance that they did not wish to participate in same-sex weddings.  The article continues:

The same law prohibits Joanna and Breanna from publishing statements explaining the artistic and religious beliefs that require them to only create art consistent with their religious belief supporting one-man/one-woman marriage.

The penalties which the owners face demonstrate that the law is not about addressing harm, but punishing any type of dissent. The Federalist explains:

If they dare disobey, Phoenix can incarcerate them for six months and fine them up to $2,500 for each day of disobedience.

To make matters worse, Judge Caren Mullins called the argument that Joanna and Brenna had a right to exercise their freedom of conscience and religion “absurd”. She proceeded to deny their plea last month on September 19. Not to be deterred, the two women decided to move ahead, filing an appeal the next day. According to Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco on behalf of the Alliance Defending Freedom: 

We are asking the appeals court to ensure that Phoenix officials will have to respect our clients' freedom of speech for the duration of this lawsuit. It's our hope that the city will respect it permanently for these artists and any artists, regardless of the political or religious views that the artists hold.

In an era which prides itself on its ‘open-mindedness’ and ‘acceptance of all people’, there seems to be very little of that going on. If this case is lost, then it is proof that the U.S. government can interfere with the works of small businesses and dictate their policies. Furthermore, it will be sordid proof that freedom of opinion takes second place to ‘diversity’ and that anti-discrimination laws will be used to force compliance with the new “normal”. This case serves as a sombre warning for all other countries that the loss of the traditional definition of marriage endangers the freedoms we now enjoy.

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