Lincoln business owner, religious leader weigh in on wedding website case

20 state AGs, including Nebraska's, are chiming in on another case pitting religious liberty vs. LGBT rights

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Doug Peterson of Nebraska and 19 other state attorneys general are urging the Supreme Court to give a Colorado business the right to deny services for same-sex couples.

The 20-state coalition is focused on the lawsuit 303 Creative v. Elenis.

The owner of 303 Creative, Lorie Smith, wanted to expand her graphic design business into wedding websites.

Because of religious beliefs, Smith said she is unable to promote same-sex weddings.

Channel 8 spoke with people on both sides of the debate on Friday.

Jenn Dunn co-owns Butterfly Bakery in Lincoln with her wife, Katie.

She acknowledged that businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone.

“As a business, I guess, technically, you can have the right to refuse service,” Dunn said. “However, I think, and how I do business here, is out of a model of kindness.”

Dunn wishes that businesses wouldn’t refuse others based on individual differences.

“Because we get so focused on our divisions and how we’re different, instead of looking at how we’re alike, we really don’t reach our true and full potential,” she said.

Under Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, if Smith creates designs for opposite-sex weddings, she must do the same for same-sex weddings.

Smith sued the state, saying that the law violates her rights under the First Amendment.

Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, said he backs Smith in her legal battle.

He said such laws “target small business owners who serve everyone, but they can’t necessarily express every message or celebrate every event that every client would like them to participate in,” Venzor said.

Venzor said if a pro-abortion rights business owner declined him service as someone who is anti-abortion, they would have every right to do so under the First Amendment.

“We’re getting into a place where government is infringing on people’s creative free speech rights, and I think that’s a problem,” Venzor said.

In an amicus brief, the coalition argues that Colorado’s law forces business owners to act against their religious beliefs.

The attorneys general say the state cannot force Smith to address same-sex marriage or “express approval and celebration” of it.

Other states in the coalition include Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.

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