ADF: Something wrong when artists face jail time

Monday, April 23, 2018
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

Bill of RightsTwo artists from Arizona are headed to court today in ongoing an effort to defend their First Amendment rights and to literally stay out of jail in the future.  

Under threat of up to six months jail time, Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of the Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix, are seeking to stop a sweeping city ordinance that would force them to create custom artwork that violates their beliefs.

The calligraphy shop owners make art for special events and various occasions, including weddings, says attorney Jonathan Scruggs of Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the Brush & Nib artists.

"Phoenix passed a law," he continues, "that basically says, Hey, because this art studio will make a sign endorsing or celebrating the wedding of an opposite-sex marriage, it also has to make a sign, write out words, celebrating a same-sex marriage. And so that's really the core issue of this case: Is that constitutional?"

Brush & Nib (calligraphy)After a heated public hearing, the Phoenix City Council voted 5-3 in 2013 to update a non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and "gender expression." 

The penalty for violating the discrimination ordinance includes up to six months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

With help from ADF, the two artists filed a pre-enforcement challenge to the law in 2016, meaning they were suing in light of the possibility of a future conflict with the ordinance.

A local newspaper pointed out at the time that Brush and Nib had yet to be sued for discrimination but the same story quoted a homosexual-rights activist who likened the Brush and Nib artists to Jim Crow racists and claimed ADF was "promoting an anti-gay agenda."

Scruggs

That same activist, an attorney, helped write the Phoenix ordinance, the story reported. 

The issue about free speech is not just for two Christian artists, says the ADF attorney, but for everyone who has a viewpoint. He gives the example of a homosexual web site designer forced to create a web site that criticizes same-sex marriage.

"No one should be compelled to convey messages they disagree with," he says, "and that's something that should really be a basic principle that Phoenix yet is still violating."

Scruggs tells OneNewsNow the case is currently before Arizona's appellate court, which is one step below the Arizona Supreme Court.

ADF appealed to the appellate court after losing its case in Maricopa County's superior court.

 

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