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April 2, 2012 Print

Lexington Human-Rights Commissioner Delivers Opinion

by Karla Dial

As the investigation of a Christian-owned T-shirt company in Kentucky continues, a member of the county human-rights commission says the owners of the Christian business may not have the same rights as others.

In turning down a bid to print T-shirts for a local gay-pride event, the owners of Hands On Originals said it was a free-speech issue — that printing T-shirts affirming homosexuality conflicts with their faith.

The group investigating the complaint, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, is taking a different view.

“It wasn’t necessarily the message that was being rejected,” said executive director Raymond Sexton. “It was allegedly based on the sole fact that the individuals who were bring the shirts happened to be a protected class, in this case homosexuals.”

Under the human rights ordinance, could a gay business owner reject business from Christians?

“That could be legal because it’s attacking the message and not the protected class of the individuals in question,” Sexton said. “It’s just simply the message.”

Sexton said the commission will be applying a litmus test to find out just how “Christian” Hands On Originals is by comparing the business it’s turned down with proposals it’s accepted.