Phoenix artists file lawsuit against forced participation in same-sex wedding ceremonies


A Phoenix art studio filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging a city nondiscrimination ordinance that forces artists to use their talents to promote same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of art studio Brush & Nib, says Phoenix City Code Section 18.4(B) runs afoul of the Arizona Free Speech Clause and Free Exercise of Religion Act by forcing artists to choose between their beliefs and jail.

“Artists shouldn’t be threatened with jail for disagreeing with the government,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The government must allow artists the freedom to make personal decisions about what art they will create and what art they won’t create. Just because an artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean she is required to express all viewpoints.”


I think there are two kinds of artists. There are those who create an artwork and then try to sell it. Then there are those who work on commission, creating works of art according to customer’s specifications.

I agree that the former should not be forced to create works based on some fictional customer that may or may not exist.

The second group I have a little bit of a problem with. They are saying that they will produce what a customer wants as long as they can use certain tools ( a photographer will not be producing pictures using oil and canvas as an example). Are they selling a product, much like a grocery store or a gas station? Do they have complete control over their product or must they take pictures of a certain event, create a cake with a certain color frosting, etc. Do they initiate the transaction or does the customer?


Since you do commisioned work that means you should have zero say in what commissions you accept?

Let’s say I’m a gifted speech writer that works on contract. Should I be required to write speeches for any person or should I be able to reject using my gift to promote something I disagree with? Should a social liberal be required to write a speech promoting securing US borders through deportation even if they support amnesty?

How about a composer of religious music? Should a jewish composer be required to take a commision to write a Catholic hymn?

Why should the government compel anyone to take a contract that they would not normally be inclined to take? How about they simply take the contract and do a horrible job? Are they then liable for not being inspired to do as good a job as they might do for a project they have a passion for?


Actually, speaking as a professional artist myself, most artist will do their work both ways. Unquestionably, in my several decades of experience, any artist has to be allowed to decline a commission at their own discretion; no reason needs to be given.

Artists get commissions by:

  1. Being represented by a gallery who asks one of the artists if they would fulfill a customer’s request.
  2. Advertising on their own with pictures of previous work in an art collector’s magazine or online.
  3. word of mouth



“That which is forced can never be beautiful.”


It is time to defend free speech in America. Dissidents should not be repressed. That is how it was like in the Soviet Union. America is a free country. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit