- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Phoenix art studio filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging a city nondiscrimination ordinance that forces artists to use their talents to promote same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of art studio Brush & Nib, says Phoenix City Code Section 18.4(B) runs afoul of the Arizona Free Speech Clause and Free Exercise of Religion Act by forcing artists to choose between their beliefs and jail.

“Artists shouldn’t be threatened with jail for disagreeing with the government,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The government must allow artists the freedom to make personal decisions about what art they will create and what art they won’t create. Just because an artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean she is required to express all viewpoints.”

The city nondiscrimination ordinance also prohibits businesses from communicating any “unwelcome” messages based upon someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which ADF says could include expressing opposition to same-sex marriage.

The complaint points to city investigations into businesses that declined to promote same-sex marriage. Those reports concluded that the ordinance requires businesses to promote same-sex marriage if they are willing to promote opposite-sex marriage.

The penalty for transgressors is up to $2,500 in fines and six months in jail.

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“Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of punishment,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Artists don’t surrender their freedom of speech and freedom from coercion when they choose to make a living with their art. Government can’t censor artists or demand that they create art that violates their deepest convictions.”



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