Supreme Court ruling on gay rights cites web designer who denies receiving wedding site request

by Michael Nguyen
controversy surrounding cited request

A web designer from Colorado, whose right to refuse creating wedding websites for gay couples was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, has cited a request from an individual who claims to have never approached her for services.

The disputed request, attributed to a person identified as “Stewart,” was not the original basis for web designer Lorie Smith’s preemptive federal lawsuit filed seven years ago, predating her involvement in designing wedding websites. However, as the case progressed, Smith’s attorneys referenced it when questioned by the state of Colorado regarding the legitimacy of her grounds for suing.

This revelation detracts from Smith’s legal victory, which many view as a setback for gay rights, at a time when she might have otherwise celebrated her win.

In 2017 court documents, Smith named Stewart as the requester, providing his phone number and email address. However, Stewart informed The Big Big News that he never submitted the request and was unaware that his name was invoked in the lawsuit until contacted by a reporter from The New Republic, the first outlet to report his denial.

Stewart, who declined to disclose his last name due to concerns of harassment and threats, stated that he had been happily married to a woman for the past 15 years. He also mentioned being a designer and expressed surprise that the validity of the request attributed to him had not been investigated until recently. Furthermore, he asserted that he could design his own website if the need arose.

At a news conference on Friday, Smith’s lawyer, Kristen Waggoner, denied fabricating the wedding request attributed to Stewart. She suggested that it could have been the work of a troll, citing similar instances with other clients she has represented. In 2018, she successfully defended Colorado baker Jack Phillips in a partial U.S. Supreme Court victory when he refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his Christian faith.

Waggoner stated, “It’s undisputed that the request was received. Whether that was a troll and not a genuine request, or it was someone who was looking for that, is really irrelevant to the case.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser criticized the lawsuit as a “made-up case” since Smith was not providing wedding website services when the suit was filed. Weiser, however, was unaware of the specifics of Stewart’s denial but argued that the Supreme Court should not have addressed the case without any basis in reality.

Shortly after the case was filed in federal court challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, state lawyers claimed that Smith had not been harmed by the law and sought to dismiss the case. Smith’s lawyers countered that she did not need to suffer harm before challenging the law and insisted that she had indeed received a request, although not necessary to pursue the case.

Smith’s filings with the Supreme Court briefly mentioned that she had received at least one request to create a website for a same-sex wedding. However, the court’s decision did not seem to make any reference to this particular issue.

This report includes contributions from Rhonda Shafner, a researcher at Big Big News, based in New York.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Supreme Court ruling

Q: What was the Supreme Court ruling regarding the web designer and gay rights?

A: The Supreme Court ruled that a Colorado web designer could refuse to create wedding websites for gay couples.

Q: Who is “Stewart” and what is his involvement in the case?

A: “Stewart” is an individual who was cited as having requested the services of the web designer in question. However, he denies ever making such a request and was surprised to find his name invoked in the lawsuit.

Q: Did the web designer fabricate the request from “Stewart”?

A: The web designer’s lawyer denies fabricating the request and suggests it could have been made by a troll or someone seeking to provoke a response. The authenticity of the request is considered irrelevant to the case.

Q: How does the disputed request affect the web designer’s victory?

A: The revelation of the disputed request detracts from the web designer’s victory and raises questions about the validity of the case. It complicates the narrative surrounding the ruling and its impact on gay rights.

Q: What did the Colorado Attorney General say about the lawsuit?

A: The Colorado Attorney General referred to the lawsuit as a “made-up case” because the web designer was not offering wedding website services when the lawsuit was initially filed.

Q: Was the web designer harmed by the anti-discrimination law?

A: The state lawyers argued that the web designer had not suffered harm from the anti-discrimination law and sought to dismiss the case. However, the web designer’s lawyers maintained that she did not need to be punished before challenging the law and claimed she had received a request, though it was not necessary for pursuing the case.

Q: Did the Supreme Court address the issue of the request in its decision?

A: The court’s decision did not appear to make any specific reference to the request attributed to “Stewart” or its validity. The focus of the ruling was on the web designer’s right to refuse creating wedding websites for gay couples.

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Bookworm87 July 1, 2023 - 2:04 am

i feel bad for the couple who wanted the website. they just wanted to celebrate their love and now it’s turned into this big legal mess. it’s disappointing that discrimination can still happen in this day and age. love is love, no matter who it’s between.

MusicLover12 July 1, 2023 - 7:18 am

the web designer’s victory doesn’t feel like a victory at all. with the disputed request and all the controversy, it’s hard to see this as a fair outcome. the court should have considered the impact on gay rights more seriously.

TechGeek77 July 1, 2023 - 8:00 am

wait, so the web designer wasn’t even offering wedding websites when she filed the lawsuit? that’s messed up. the attorney general is right, this seems like a made-up case. i don’t think the court should have ruled on it without real evidence.

SoccerFan23 July 1, 2023 - 6:53 pm

omg can you believe it?? the lawyer for the web designer says it could be a troll making the request. like seriously? that’s so unfair to the couple. i can’t believe the supreme court didn’t consider this. gay rights should be protected!

Jane92 July 1, 2023 - 8:44 pm

wow, so the Supreme court rule in favor of the web designer who dont want to make website for gay couple. some guy named stewart say he never ask for website but the lawyer say its not important. this whole case is crazy tbh!


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