Phoenix, AZ, September 16, 2019– This morning the Arizona Supreme Court released their decision in the Brush and Nibs case brought earlier in the year. The 4 to 3 decision explicitly states that “this case is about freedom of speech and religion.” This statement demonstrates the court’s fundamental failure in interpreting and ruling on this case. In the text of the decision the court states, “the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone.” However, this ruling has the impact of silencing the free speech and freedom of expression of LGBTQ individuals and our allies, while upholding the individual freedoms of cisgender and heterosexual business owners to discriminate.
“The decision is deeply concerning, not just because the Arizona Supreme Court narrowly affirmed a challenge to the City of Phoenix’s non-discrimination policy that protects LGBTQ people, but because the Arizona Supreme Court decided that cisgender and heterosexual people have a greater right to individual freedoms than LGBTQ people,” said Michael Soto, Executive Director of Equality Arizona. “The right to live openly and authentically is fundamentally a right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression for LGBTQ people. The court failed LGBTQ Phoenicians and Arizonans today, and succumbed to the fear mongering of a right-winged movement that is trying to push LGBTQ people back into the closet.”
While today’s ruling was limited in scope, as stated in the ruling, “We do not recognize a blanket exemption from the Ordinance for all of Plaintiffs’ business operations. Likewise, we do not, on jurisprudential grounds, reach the issue of whether Plaintiffs’ creation of other wedding products may be exempt from the Ordinance,” it will have a negative impact on LGBTQ people, allies, and could have an economic impact on the state of Arizona. We know from the past that when Arizona sides with hate and discrimination, our economy and our people suffer the consequences. While the extremely narrow nature of the ruling will limit the rulings impact, it is still a harmful decision for the LGBTQ community.
Every day the LGBTQ community is under attack by right wing extremists, hate groups, and by the Trump administration. It is time, right now - today, to get engaged in the fight for our equality, our rights, and our lives. Please go to www.equalityarizona.orgto find out how you can get involved. Join the fight for LGBTQ equality and let the Arizona Supreme Court and right-wing extremists know that we will fight for our rights until we win full equality and inclusion for LGBTQ people!