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Valley leaders react to Arizona high court ruling in Brush and Nib case

(Facebook Photo/Brush & Nib)

PHOENIX — Valley political figures reacted Monday to the Arizona Supreme Court ruling that a Phoenix business can refuse to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples.

The decision overruled the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance, which bars businesses from refusing service due to sexual orientation, in favor of the two Christian artists who own Brush & Nib.

“Today’s decision is not a win, but it is not a loss,” Mayor Kate Gallego, a Democrat, said at a press conference after the ruling.

“It means we will continue to have a debate over equality in this community.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, who was mayor when the ordinance was amended in 2013 to include sexual orientation and gender identity, called it a “shameful day” for Arizona.

“Today’s decision will hurt real people,” he said in a statement.

“And after so many have worked so hard to show that Arizona is a welcoming place for everyone, this decision will harm our economy by sending the unfortunate message that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is still acceptable by some state leaders.”

State Rep. Charlene Fernandez, the House Democratic leader, expressed concern that the ruling would inspire more lawsuits against Phoenix’s ordinance.

“Thankfully the decision leaves the Phoenix anti-discrimination ordinance in place,” she said in a statement. “However, be certain that this is just the camel’s nose under the tent.

“Without a doubt, the deep-pocketed extremist backers of this lawsuit will use it to help other businesses try to use religion as a right to discriminate against those they hate and despise based on who you are and who you love.”

On the other hand, Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers applauded the court’s decision.

“Today’s ruling balances the importance of nondiscrimination protections with the inalienable free speech and exercise-of-religion rights of business owners,” he said in a statement.

“This is a critical victory for the First Amendment and religious freedom, and I thank the court for affirming that the government cannot compel business owners to communicate a viewpoint that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Democratic Tempe City Councilwoman Lauren Kuby said she fears her city’s version of the ordinance may be in trouble due to the ruling.

“Tempe’s anti-discrimination ordinance, a ballot initiative … was overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2014,” she said on Twitter.

“Our city’s ordinance is under threat as well from this constitutional flimflammery brought by State Supremes.”

ONE Community, a Phoenix-based business coalition that supports LGBTQ rights, said it is important to point out that the ordinance still stands despite the ruling.

“This ruling does not mean that businesses can freely discriminate,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“This narrow decision only allows one business to deny a single product to LGBTQ people simply for who they are.”

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