Court rules that a Kentucky printer may refuse to print LGBT Pride message

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Lexington Kentucky Gay Pride shirt that printer refused to print in 2012
Lexington Kentucky Gay Pride shirt that printer refused to print in 2012

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a printer who refused to print a message for Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization. Blaine Adamson, the owner of Hands on Originals, refused to print T-shirts for the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival because he didn’t agree with the slogan, “pride in being gay,” and claimed it conflicted with his religious beliefs.

Kentucky postcard
Kentucky postcard

The printer offered to refer GLSO to another printer in 2012. The organization filed a complaint against him despite receiving the shirts complimentary from another printer. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ruled back in 2014 that he must print messages that conflict with his faith when customers request so.

In last week’s ruling, a 2-to-1 decision, the panel of appeals judges sided with Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishamel, which had sided with Hands on Originals. The appeals court opinion, written by Chief Judge Joy A. Kramer, found no evidence that Adamson and his business “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.”

Further, Judge Debra Hembree Lambert added that Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Statute protects Hands on Originals, the company, and that Adamson has the right in accordance to that law to operate his business based on his 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.