In the past week, Fox News has twice given a platform to Kristen Waggoner, an attorney from influential and extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and clients of hers who are challenging a Phoenix nondiscrimination ordinance that prohibits businesses and others from discriminating against LGBTQ people.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, ADF’s clients who own a calligraphy studio called Brush & Nib, are seeking to overturn the ordinance so that they can legally discriminate against potential LGBTQ customers. The Arizona Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case, Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix, after the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled against ADF’s clients and upheld the ordinance. ADF’s case is a “pre-enforcement” challenge, a common ADF legal tactic in which people sue over a law that has not yet been enforced against them. This case is one of at least half a dozen license-to-discriminate cases that ADF and its allies are pushing through the courts.
Waggoner and her clients appeared on both the November 29 edition of Fox & Friends and the November 27 episode of Fox News at Night with Shannon Bream. These weren't ADF's first appearances on the network to promote its cases. ADF senior counsel Kate Anderson appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight earlier this month to discuss another case, regarding whether an Alaska women’s shelter can deny services to homeless transgender women, and ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco and two other ADF clients appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show in October. In these appearances and cases, ADF often relies on the false premise that increased rights for LGBTQ people, such as nondiscrimination policies, result in the loss of rights for Christians and other religious people. In fact, majorities of most religious groups believe homosexuality should be accepted, and faith leaders representing hundreds of thousands of congregants have come out against anti-LGBTQ discrimination by businesses.
From the November 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
AINSLEY EARHARDT (HOST): Two Christian artists in Arizona could face jail time if they refuse to make custom artwork for same-sex weddings. The business owners are challenging a local anti-discrimination ordinance that they say goes against their religious values. The Arizona Supreme Court just announced it will hear their case in January. Excuse me. Joining me now are artists and co-owners of Brush & Nib Studio, Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, along with their lawyer from the Alliance Defending Freedom, Kristen Waggoner, who also represented cake baker lawyer -- she was the cake baker lawyer in Colorado.
OK, Joanna and Breanna, I'll start with you guys. You started this company. One does the artwork, one is the calligrapher, and you produce artwork for weddings, and you heard about this law. And this is all pre-emptive, right? You don’t have a -- you didn't have someone who is a same-sex couple come to you and say, would you do this for our wedding? You just knew that that’s a possibility, and you wanted to challenge this, right?
KRISTEN WAGGONER (ADF SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT): Ainsley, we’ve got to remember that in terms of pre-enforcement challenges, this has been used in the civil rights era many, many times, because Americans shouldn't have to wait to be thrown in jail before they can challenge an unjust law.
EARHARDT: Many Christians think what you're doing is admirable. I know, or many people of faith would think that. Many people maybe not of faith would. But the other side, you might have some in the faith community that would challenge this and say, Jesus loved everybody. God loved everybody. What’s your response to that, to those critics?
JOANNA DUKA (BRUSH & NIB CO-OWNER, ADF CLIENT): We love everyone, and we serve everyone. And we are here just believing strongly and standing up for the rights of artists to be free to create. And we want that for all artists and all people, no matter what they believe, what they think, who they are.
WAGGONER: And the point of the case is to let everybody make the decision of what would Jesus do. That’s the point of this case. The Constitution gives us that right.