Main | Monday, April 27, 2015

KENTUCKY: Court Rules That Print Shop Can Refuse Gay Pride Messages

A rare win for Alliance Defending Freedom:
A Kentucky court ruled Monday that a Lexington printer is free to decline to print messages that conflict with his religious beliefs and that the government cannot force him to do otherwise. The Lexington-Fayette Urban Co unty Human Rights Commission ruled last year that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals must print messages that conflict with his faith on shirts that customers order from him. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Adamson appealed the ruling to the Fayette Circuit Court, which has now reversed the commission’s decision.  “The government can’t force citizens to surrender free-speech rights or religious freedom in order to run a small business, and this decision affirms that,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the court in Hands On Originals v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. “The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.”
I'll update this post when local news covers the ruling.

UPDATE: From the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael issued a ruling Monday reversing the Lexington Human Rights Commission's 2014 decision that Hands On Originals violated Lexington's Fairness Ordinance. The ordinance, among other things, prohibits businesses from discriminating against people based on sexual orientation. Ray Sexton, executive director of the Lexington Human Rights Commission, said Monday that Ishmael's ruling is part of a continuing process. "We don't look at this as a loss," Sexton said Monday. "We look at it as a one-one tie right now."

The commission's board would consider its next step at a board meeting Monday evening, Sexton said. He said the board is likely to appeal Ishmael's decision. Ishmael's ruling "is nothing we weren't prepared for at the very beginning," Sexton said. Ishmael's ruling says that there is no evidence that Hands On Originals or its owners "refused to print the T-shirts in question based upon the sexual orientation of GLSA or its members or representatives. ... Rather, it is clear beyond dispute that (Hands On Originals) and its owners declined to print the T-shirts in question because of the message advocating sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman."

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