Two Christian artists intend to appeal an Arizona court ruling rejecting artistic freedom.
The case involves Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix. Owners Joana Duka and Breana Koski create hand-drawn invitations, paintings, and signs for weddings, businesses, and everyday moments. The problem? The Arizona capital has an ordinance that says Duka and Koski have to provide the same artwork for same-sex" weddings" – something the ladies say violates their deeply held religious beliefs.
The case went before the Arizona Court of Appeals, which ruled Thursday against the artists.
"Artists shouldn't be forced under threat of fines and jail time to create artwork contrary to their core convictions," says attorney Jonathan Scruggs of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing the artists. "The court's decision allows the government to compel two artists who happily serve everyone to convey a message about marriage they disagree with. This contradicts basic freedoms our nation has always cherished."
According to the attorney, the Phoenix law imposes "severe penalties" – specifically, a $2,500 fine, six months in jail, and three years of probation for every day a person failed to comply. "And every day is a new violation," he clarifies. "So that could really add up."
Pointing to Monday's Supreme Court decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, Scruggs says the Supreme Court reaffirmed that "religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression."
"Phoenix's position contradicts this principle and violates our clients' artistic and religious freedom," he continues. "We intend to appeal the court's decision."
ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner represented Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips before the U.S. Supreme Court, which said on Monday that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' First Amendment rights over his religious objections to designing a same-sex "wedding" cake.