Podcast | WA braces for impact after SCOTUS ruling on free speech

Reporter Mai Hoang explains how the court decision to exempt a Colorado web designer from LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination laws could have a ripple effect. 

Barronelle Stutzman surrounded by supporters with signs

Barronelle Stutzman, center, a Richland, Washington, florist who was fined for denying service to a gay couple in 2013, looks around as she is surrounded by supporters after a hearing before Washington's Supreme Court, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, In November 2021, Stutzman settled the multi-year legal case spurred by her refusal to provide custom floral arrangements for a same-sex marriage due to her Christian beliefs. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a Christian website designer in Colorado can refuse to provide wedding websites to same-sex couples, because doing so falls within her First Amendment right to free speech.

As Crosscut reporter Mai Hoang found, the ruling in Colorado was the first to address whether prohibiting discrimination against a protected class can be set aside for someone’s free-speech rights.

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This decision signals a marked shift from a Washington Supreme Court case, settled in 2021, that required Barronelle Stutzman to follow public accommodation laws after she refused on religious grounds to provide custom floral arrangements for a same-sex marriage.

In this episode of Crosscut Reports, host Sara Bernard talks with Hoang about the significance of this Supreme Court ruling; its potential implications in Washington; and the tenuous balance between upholding First Amendment rights and protecting vulnerable communities from discrimination. 

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