Not so far away, in Phoenix, Arizona two calligraphers are facing jail time and/or fines for refusing to take part in promoting same-sex weddings. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski are two calligraphy artists who together run a business, Brush & Nib Studio. According to Life Site News, the two Christian women “face up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and three years of probation for each day that there is a violation of Phoenix City Code 18-4 (B).” More from Life Site News:
Not only are the Christian women threatened jail time and fines should they refuse to create artwork celebrating gay “marriage” because of the Phoenix law, they could also be prosecuted for publishing a statement on their website explaining that their religious convictions prohibits them from doing so.
The city of Phoenix passed the public accommodation law in 2013. ADF filed a pre-enforcement challenge to the law on behalf of Duka and Koski in 2016, arguing that the ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution and Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act.
Phoenix officials have used the law to try to force Joanna and Breanna to participate in same sex events and create art which is contrary to their religious beliefs. Joanna and Breanna challenged the law however, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Karen Mullins ruled against the two women last October saying that the Phoenix ordinance was constitutional.
The two women, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, are asking the Arizona Supreme Court to hear their case challenging the Arizona law. “Artists shouldn’t be forced to create artwork contrary to their core convictions, and certainly not under threat of criminal fines and jail time,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs.
The artwork that Joanna and Breanna create is reflective and celebratory of their religious beliefs. In their appeal, Alliance Defending Freedom noted that their wedding invitations “include language that is celebratory of the wedding,” and have referred to marriage in their previous artwork as the joining of “one flesh” in marriage.
“The government must allow artists to make their own decisions about which messages they will promote,” Scruggs said. “Breanna and Joanna are happy to design custom art for all people; they simply object to being forced to pour their heart, soul, imagination, and talent into creating messages that violate their conscience. The court’s decision allows the government to compel two artists who happily serve everyone to convey a message about marriage they disagree with. This contradicts basic freedoms our nation has always cherished,” Scruggs said.