PHOENIX — The Arizona Court of Appeals today ruled against a business claiming a First Amendment right to deny service to same-sex couples. The case, Brush and Nib v. City of Phoenix, involves a calligraphy business that sought to violate Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance by turning away same-sex couples who wanted access to the same services the calligraphy business would provide to heterosexual couples. The business claimed that the ordinance compelled them to create messages in violation of their First Amendment right to free expression.
Joshua Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU, offered the following reaction: “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 applied the Supreme Court’s Monday decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, 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.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, and 11 other groups working for the equal treatment of LGBTQ people in Arizona filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that businesses open to the public cannot deny service to same-sex couples because of the business owners’ freedom of speech or religion. In addition to the ACLU and ACLU of Arizona, the brief was supported by Arizona Trans Youth & Parent Organization (AZTYPO), Equality Arizona, GLSEN Phoenix, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), One n Ten, Phoenix Pride, the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF), the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA), Southern Arizona Senior Pride, Trans Queer Pueblo, and Trans Spectrum of Arizona.