By Corinne Murdock |
Attorney General Kris Mayes pledged to ignore the Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) recent decision in the case 303 Creative v. Elenis.
SCOTUS ruled last month that Colorado’s anti-discrimination law that would punish a Christian wedding website designer for declining to make a same-sex wedding website violated the First Amendment. The Scottsdale legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented the website designer.
Colorado anti-discrimination law added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of traditional Civil Rights protections: race, religion, color, and national origin.
In a press release, Mayes encouraged individuals to continue to file complaints of discrimination concerning LGBTQ+ identity.
“Despite today’s ruling, Arizona law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, including discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Mayes. “If any Arizonan believes that they have been the victim of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, or ancestry in a place of public accommodation, they should file a complaint with my office. I will continue to enforce Arizona’s public accommodation law to its fullest extent.”
The Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA) doesn’t list either sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes. ACRA only recognizes race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, and genetic testing results as protected classes.
Mayes’ interpretation of ACRA could come from the arguments presented by former attorney general Mark Brnovich. Mayes’ predecessor interpreted anti-discrimination protections to include both sexual orientation and gender identity in a 2020 filing for Bruer v. State of Arizona. His filing followed the Bostock v. Clayton County decision prohibiting employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
At the time, Brnovich stated that the state legislature would have to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to exclude sexual orientation and gender identity if they disagreed with his interpretation.
Also in her press release, Mayes called the SCOTUS majority “woefully misguided.” Mayes added that she agreed with Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s dissent.
“Today, a woefully misguided majority of the United States Supreme Court has decided that businesses open to the public may, in certain circumstances, discriminate against LGBTQ+ Americans,” stated Mayes.
Sotomayor’s dissent argued that the wedding website designer wasn’t protected by the First Amendment because her refusal to validate a same-sex wedding should be considered an act, not protected speech. Sotomayor further argued that individuals should be compelled to act contrary to their personal beliefs if they’re wishing to participate in the economy at all.
“[I]f a business chooses to profit from the public market, which is established and maintained by the state, the state may require the business to abide by a legal norm of nondiscrimination,” stated Sotomayor.
In her first executive order issued in January, Gov. Katie Hobbs added gender identity to the list of anti-discrimination protections concerning state employment and contracts. Hobbs expanded on the anti-discrimination precedent of her Democratic female predecessor, Janet Napolitano, who issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.