The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, a print shop based in Lexington, Kentucky, is correct in his argument that being forced to create the T-shirts was a violation of his religious beliefs, according to the Becket, a law firm devoted to the defense of religious liberty.
“The court agreed with Becket, top legal scholars, and LGBT business owners, who all stood up for the rights of artists to choose what messages they would promote, without fear of government punishment,” the firm said in a statement. “(The) ruling emphasized that ‘the ‘service’ [the printer] offers is the promotion of messages. The ‘conduct’ [the printer] chose not to promote was pure speech.’”
This is the second court ruling in Adamson’s favor after a Fayette County Circuit Court ruling found that the human rights commission was incorrect to force the printer to make shirts for the pride parade.
The Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission appealed that ruling, yielding today’s court decision.
Problems began for Adamson, who is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative law firm, after he was asked in 2012 by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) to make shirts for a local gay pride event. He declined and offered to help the group find other printers who might be willing to do so — but that did little to temper controversy and consternation.
The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization then turned to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission and filed a complaint, with the government responding by mandating that Adamson print the shirts and that his staff attend diversity training.
But Adamson, who employs and does business with gay individuals, has consistently argued that he wasn’t discriminating against people and was, instead, declining to print messages with which he disagrees.