OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the leaders of Ottawa County’s fundamentalist group was included in last week’s Supreme Court decision that ruled website designers can refuse to work with same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.
Joe Moss, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners Chair and co-founder of Ottawa Impact, is included in an amicus brief from website designers. In the document, the designers do not formally take a position on a ruling, but “their joint interest lies in making a single point — custom websites and graphics are expressive works of art which reflect the voice of their creators.”
Moss, however, has never hid his stance and celebrated the ruling on social media.
“Proud to stand with Lorie Smith on this case!” Moss tweeted on June 30. “Thank you (Alliance Defending Freedom) and everyone who contributed to support this case.”
The Holland Sentinel, which was first to report the record, also confirmed that Moss’ business partner, Joel Kallman, and the software company they created together, Eclarian LLC, are also signed onto the brief.
The brief was filed in May 2022, months before Moss was elected to the Ottawa County Commission.
Moss retweeted a thread of posts from the Ottawa Impact account, including criticisms of states with Democrat-controlled governments, accusing legislatures of adopting “Marxist ideology” and an ideology that “results in harsh, punitive treatment of those who disagree.”
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Smith has the right to refuse to design a wedding website for a same-sex couple, conflicting with a Colorado state law that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the ruling, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that Americans are “free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”
Critics, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, question where the line stops for those freedoms.
“(The decision’s logic) cannot be limited to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Sotomayor wrote. “A website designer could refuse to create a wedding website for an interracial couple. … A stationer could refuse to sell a birth announcement for a disabled couple. A large retail store could limit its portrait services to ‘traditional’ families.”
The Associated Press reports that while Smith does own a design business, she does not currently design wedding websites and the only noted request from a same-sex couple appears to be a sham. Lawyers representing Smith deny the accusations that the request was fabricated but did admit it could “have been a troll making the request.”
Moss and Ottawa Impact immediately drew a sharp split across the county since taking office at the beginning of the year. In its first committee meeting, the group approved several last-minute agenda items, including firing the county’s administrator and replacing him with failed Congressional candidate John Gibbs. The group also shut down the county’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department and changed the county’s slogan from “Where you belong” to “Where freedom rings.”