BREAKING: Arizona Appeals Court Upholds LGBT Protections In Ruling That Cites SCOTUS Cake Decision

LeGaL executive director Eric Lesh reports at Medium:

In the first lower court ruling applying Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected the argument that business owners have a license to discriminate against same-sex couples in Brush & NIB Studio v City of Phoenix.

This case was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom. This shows that the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop did not change the long-standing rule that businesses that are open to to the public must be open to all.

The Associated Press reports:

Lawyer Jonathan Scruggs of the group Alliance Defending Freedom said the Arizona Court of Appeals’ decision on Thursday forces artists to do work contrary to their core beliefs. A Phoenix city ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The owners of Brush & Nib Studio claimed in a 2016 lawsuit that the city law violates their freedom of speech and religion. The owners are Christians. The Arizona ruling can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The Arizona Star reports:

The three-judge panel cited a long line of federal court rulings from across the country which have upheld laws barring places of “public accommodation” from refusing services based on whether the client is gay.

“In light of these cases and consistent with the United States Supreme Court’s decisions, we recognize that allowing appellants based on sexual orientation would constitute grave and continuing harm,” wrote Judge Lawrence Winthrop for the court.the

But as it turns out, one of the federal appellate court rulings cited in today’s ruling is the one involving the Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

The ACLU reacts via press release:

The Arizona court today rightly ruled that businesses open to the public must be open to all and cannot discriminate against potential customers based on who they are: in this case, members of the LGBT community.

Importantly, the Arizona court also applied the Supreme Court’s Monday decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop here, affirming once again the importance of laws protecting the dignity of LGBT people in the public marketplace.

“We will continue to fight the dangerous notion that businesses have a constitutional right to discriminate in courts, in legislatures, and beyond. This decision in Arizona helps affirm that discrimination has no place in businesses open to the public, nor in our Constitution.”

When I first reported on this case two years ago, I wrote, “The company appears to have no physical address and their social media presence goes back only a few months. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brush & Nib was invented specifically to overturn Phoenix’s ordinance.”