A Kentucky commission has announced its support of a gay and lesbian group suing a T-shirt company owned by a Christian man who declined to print the group’s shirts because the message, he said, violates his faith.
Blaine Adamson, who owns Hands On Originals (HOO) in Lexington, Ky., refused to print T-shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) in early March, because he disagreed with the “gay pride” message the group wanted printed on the shirts.
“I want the truth to come out — it’s not that we have a sign on the front door that says, ‘No Gays Allowed,’” Adamson said in a video posted on ADF’s website. “We’ll work with anybody. But if there’s a specific message that conflicts with my convictions, then I can’t promote that.”
The text on the shirts would have read: “Lexington Gay Pride,” and would include a list of sponsors of the event on the back of the shirt.
Adamson offered to direct GLSO to another business that could produce the shirts for the same price.
Instead, GLSO filed a complaint on March 28 against HOO with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission claiming that HOO violated a local ordinance based on sexual orientation.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys filed a response to GLSO’s complaint in April stating its claim of discrimination is unfounded, and that the complaint should be dismissed.
ADF argues in the letter that the store did not decline GLSO’s request, nor has it ever declined an order, because of the prospective customer’s sexual orientation.
“Instead, like its many other message-based denials, HOO declined this order because its owners did not want to communicate the message of the requested shirt — that people should be ‘proud’ about engaging in homosexual behavior or same-sex relationships— nor did they want to promote the Pride Festival or the ideology conveyed at that advocacy event,” ADF’s letter states.
The commission responded to ADF’s letter on Nov. 12 claiming that Adamson’s “unlawful discriminatory conduct” violates a local public accommodation ordinance mandating services not be denied based on “sexual orientation.”
Americans in the marketplace should not be subject to predatory legal attacks simply for abiding by their beliefs, said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell.
“The Constitution prohibits the government from forcing business owners to promote messages they disagree with, so the commission should immediately dismiss this complaint,” Campbell said. “This kind of bullying may be practiced in a dictatorship, but violations of conscience have no place in the United States.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint  in Baker v. Hands On Originals.
Read ADF’s statement  of position.
Read the determination by Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission.