State officials denounced on Friday a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing a graphic designer to refuse business from LGBTQ couples. The decision against a Colorado anti-discrimination law could have consequences for a similar statute in Connecticut.
In a 6-3 decision, the high court ruled in favor of Lorie Smith, a website designer who sued the state of Colorado, arguing that a law that barred discrimination on the basis of qualities like sexual orientation, race, or gender violated her First Amendment rights. Smith planned to create wedding websites but only wished to do business with heterosexual couples.
Along ideological lines, the court agreed that the state should not force her to offer her services to all members of the public.
“Ms. Smith seeks to engage in protected First Amendment speech; Colorado seeks to compel speech she does not wish to provide,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court’s conservative majority.
The decision is sure to have ramifications in Connecticut and more than a dozen other states with similar antidiscrimination laws.
In a joint statement Friday, members of the state legislature’s LGBTQ+ Caucus said the ruling accommodated state-sanctioned discrimination as the nation prepared to celebrate Independence Day.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States continues the systemic discrimination that LGBTQ+ people in Connecticut and beyond have been routinely subjected to throughout human existence, which is exclusion from an equal and safe opportunity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Reps. Jeff Currey, D-East Hartford, Raghib Allie-Brennan, D-Bethel, Dominique Johnson, D-Norwalk, and Marcus Brown, D-Bridgeport.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong was among a group of attorneys general to submit an amicus brief in defense of the Colorado law. On Friday, Tong called the decision “wrong and hurtful” and accused the high court of striking down fundamental protections for American citizens.
“Once again, this court is completely out of step with mainstream American views,” Tong said. “Hate is bad for business. Businesses who discriminate against customers and refuse service to people based on who they love or how they identify will not be getting my business.”
During a press conference following a State Bond Commission meeting, Gov. Ned Lamont said it was too soon to say how the decision would affect Connecticut’s law.
“I think it’s very disappointing,” Lamont said of the ruling. “How many private businesses will they allow to deny service because they don’t like your sexual orientation, race, color, creed? I think that’s contrary to the America that I know.”