May 16, 2017
LEXINGTON, KY — The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling on Friday affirmed a printer who objected to promoting a message for Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) which conflicted with his sincerely held religious beliefs. Hands On Originals’ managing owner, Blaine Adamson, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, refused to print T-shirts for the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival because he disagreed with the shirt’s message of “pride in being gay.”
Although he declined to print the shirts, he offered to refer the GLSO to another printer who would have made the shirts. Unsatisfied, the GLSO filed a complaint with the commission—despite eventually receiving the shirts for free from another printer. In 2014, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ruled that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals must print messages that conflict with his faith when customers ask him to do so.
In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel of appeals judges affirmed an earlier decision by Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael that also sided with Hands On Originals, striking down a finding by the Lexington Human Rights Commission that the business had violated the city’s fairness ordinance. The appeals court opinion, written by Chief Judge Joy A. Kramer, found that no evidence demonstrates that Hands On Originals “refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity. What Adamson objected to was spreading the LGBT group’s message and that is different than refusing to serve the group because of the sexual behavior of its individual members,” Kramer wrote.
The concurring opinion by Judge Debra Hembree Lambert says that Hands On Originals is protected by Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Statute, and that Adamson has the right under that law to operate his business consistently with his “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
“The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission wanted to crush the conscience of Blaine Adamson and force him to promote an LGBT message,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The Human Rights Commission was not successful and they found that Adamson, like Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, will not be bullied. This is another great victory for all those businesses, such as the florists and the bakers, who cannot endorse a message or service that conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” said Staver.
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