Disagreement or discrimination: Arizona Supreme Court rules in favor of Phoenix company

Disagreement or discrimination: Arizona Supreme Court rules in favor of Phoenix company

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Phoenix company early Monday morning.

The case dealt with making wedding invitations for a same sex wedding. The Court says the free speech rights of these artists were violated by Phoenix's anti-discrimination ordinance.

It makes it illegal for businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.

Two courts had upheld the constitutionality of the ordinance and rejected the arguments made by the artists. The Arizona Court of Appeals has previously ruled that while the ordinance may have an incidental effect on free speech, its main purpose is to prohibit discrimination.

This is a case that if you don’t read the details; you could be misled.

The Arizona Supreme Court's decision applies only to Phoenix company Brush and Nib and only regarding their wedding invitations.

But members of Tucson's LGBTQ community here said it still sets a tone.

Colette Barajas calls Tucson her home, though her job helps others find theirs. But when it comes to business, there’s sometimes cause for concern.

"There's a bit of fear that somebody won't work with me cause they find out the person I love is a woman," said Barajas.

Outside Centra Realty on 4th Avenue, the rainbow flag and LGBTQ friendly window signs show her office is a safe space.

Barajas said for many, discrimination is still very real.

"It's the tone that this really sets when we're already in a very uncomfortable climate in our country," Barajas said.

She’s referencing the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision, upholding a Phoenix company, Brush and Nib’s, ability to turn away LGBTQ customers, specifically for wedding invitations.

"Disagreement is not discrimination," said Briana Johnson, a spokesperson with the Center for Arizona Policy, a religious freedom organization.

She felt the opposite when the Brush and Nib decision was announced.

"Joy," she said. "It's so exciting to see the AZ Supreme Court affirm that when creative professionals enter into the marketplace they don't give up their religious or freedom of speech."

Johnson called it a win for all Arizonans.

"That applies to the LGBTQ web designer who's being asked to create things they disagree with."

The fact that this ruling is not a blanket ruling -- applying only to Brush and Nib and only their wedding invites -- could make it confusing for people who don't read the fine print.

"The general public will not read the opinion and won't understand and think oh - see?," said Barajas. "The Supreme Court says you can discriminate against LGBTQ."

The full opinion filed on September 16, 2019 can be viewed HERE.

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