Interfaith Alliance of Colorado CEO Shara Smith’s Statement on 303 Creative v. Elenis Decision

Last week, the majority on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled 6-3 in favor of the plaintiff in the 303 Creative v. Elenis case. The case in question involves a Colorado-based website designer who may have fabricated a request from a same-sex couple to design a wedding website, then used that as justification to seek relief from SCOTUS to discriminate against LGBTQ+ clients. Interfaith Alliance of Colorado CEO Shara Smith issued this statement at a press conference, where she was joined by other faith leaders as well as Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Below is Ms. Smith’s remarks in full:

The Christian Bible states, “Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind to not put up a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

You know, when I first heard this decision, I thought, “this is bad for the LGBTQ+ community.” But then I realized it’s not just bad for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also bad for people of color, for immigrants, for marginalized groups, for all of us. Because this decision allows businesses to use ‘free speech’ in order to turn away customers they would rather not serve.

This decision allows us to bask in the weaknesses of our biases, our fears, our ignorance, rather than confront them. It allows the lesser version of us to go unchallenged, and calls it “free speech.” 

This decision allows for businesses to use free speech in order to turn away customers they would rather not serve. For members of communities that have historically been targeted, whether based on sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, faith, or other factors, we know all too well what it means to be told, “we don’t serve your kind here.” 

We know all too well that these attitudes are not about free speech, but about discrimination. International Buddhist scholar and author Dr. Daisaku Ikeda states: 

“Unless we can build a society that regards human beings not as a means to a goal but as the goal itself, we will remain forever a society of discrimination, unhappiness, and inequality. In a world of animality, where the strong prey on the weak, we will simply repeat the same abusive patterns.”

Businesses open to the public must be open to all.

We all have a right to free speech. We all have a right to practice our own faith traditions and beliefs. However, that does not mean we are free to deny others their freedoms based on our own biases.

As members of the faith community, we are deeply saddened by this decision, and will continue to work together with those who are routinely targeted for hatred and discrimination, to let them know,

You are loved. 

You are seen.

You are welcome.

Dr. Daisaku Ikeda summed up what I think is important for all of us to remember in this moment. He stated:

“Human rights, democracy, and peace are a single entity When one disintegrates, they all disintegrate. Leaders in all spheres of society must engrave this truth in their minds. Everyone has a right to flower, to reveal his or her full potential as a human being, to fulfill their mission in this world. You have this right, and so does everyone else. To scorn and violate people’s human rights destroys the natural order of things. We must become people who prize human rights and respect others.”

Shalom Aleichem, As-salamu Alaykum, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, praise and peace to you.

One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for the LGBTQ+ community, issued a statement on their website, and included statements from other community leaders, as well as an excerpt from Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent. You can read all of those here.

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