U.S. Supreme Court weighs LGBTQ protections vs. free speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case Monday that explores the intersection of the right to free speech and the rights of LGBTQ people to be protected against discrimination.

The case is centered on Colorado web designer Lorie Smith who refuses to design wedding websites for same-sex couples because of her Christian faith.

Smith argues her actions should be protected by the first amendment, despite a state anti-discrimination law.

“The line is that no one on any side of any debate has to be compelled to express a message that violates their core convictions,” argued attorney Kristen Waggoner with Alliance Defending Freedom.

“I want to promote causes that are consistent with my faith,” said Smith after arguments wrapped up.

Lower courts have ruled against Smith finding that Colorado has a compelling interest to require a business to serve all the state’s citizens.

“The company just cannot refuse to serve gay couples, as it seeks to do here, just as a Christmas store cannot announce no Jews allowed,” argued attorney Eric Olson on behalf of the state of Colorado.

Clashing chants of protesters were heard outside the courthouse Monday morning.

“Create don’t regulate!” chanted protesters in support of Smith.

“Freedom from religion means freedom from yours,” chanted LGBTQ rights protesters.

This latest case comes as there are growing concerns about whether the conservative-leaning court will revisit the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage after it overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

LGBTQ protesters said they are worried about this latest case stripping away even more protections.

“It would advocate for more discrimination beyond what is already happening,” said Alex, a trans protester from Maryland. “What the Supreme Court is trying to pass is a direct attack on trans people and queer people in general.”

“She’s just saying there’s certain things I can do as a Christian and they’re telling her she’s got to,” said protester David Field, who supports Smith.

A ruling is expected to be handed down in the case by the summer.