In response to their stunning victory at the Arizona Supreme Court, Christian artists Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski are proudly standing for “artists everywhere.”
As The Daily Wire’s Hank Berrien reported on Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Duka and Koski would not be in violation of Phoenix’s ordinance on discrimination if the pair refused to use their artistic talents to create custom invitations for a same-sex wedding. Appearing on “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday, the artists said the victory was deeply important to them, as Christian artists.
“We are super excited,” Koski said, as reported by Fox News. “Ever since Joanna and I were little girls, we had a dream of being artists and starting a business, and we are just so overjoyed that the city recognized our rights as artists. This was super important to us to stand for artists everywhere across the country. We do serve everybody and love everybody, but it’s just certain messages that we cannot promote in our business because of our faith.”
Joanna Duka said the case comes down to whether or not the government should be able to threaten artists with jail time if they do not promote certain messages.
“Can the government force artists by threat of jail time to create art that promotes messages inconsistent with their values?” asked Duka. “For Breanna and I, that includes certain messages about marriage that violate our faith, that includes messages that promote racism or incite violence, exploit women, or demean any member of any community, including the LGBT community. So that’s why we’re extremely excited the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled in favor of artistic freedom and the right of artists, not the government, to decide what messages we can and can’t promote.”
In 2016, when debates over religious freedom following the U.S. Supreme Court’s constitutionalization of same-sex marriage became a major concern, Duka and Koski of Brush & Nib Studio filed suit against the city of Phoenix. The pair claimed that Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance would violate their religious beliefs when it comes to servicing same-sex weddings — such as invitations or save-the-date announcements. Unlike the now-famous Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, the Arizona women were not sued by a homosexual couple, but had been enlisted by same-sex couples on various occasions to service their weddings. In fear of reprisal, the women sued Phoenix, saying their ordinance would force them to use their creative talents in service of something they find morally objectionable.
In October 2017, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins ruled the Phoenix ordinance did not violate the artists’ religious beliefs and they could be compelled by the government to service the weddings. Oddly, Judge Mullins acknowledged that the artists undoubtedly engage in a form of speech but still ruled against them because they do not engage in “expressive speech.”
Nearly one year later, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the Mullins ruling, saying that the artists wish to engage in a “blanket refusal of service to the LGBTQ community” — even though Duka and Koski were happy to service homosexual couples so long as it did not involve participation in an event they found morally objectionable.
After fighting for three years, Duka and Koski were given a narrow victory by the Arizona Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling.