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Case Dismissed Against Christian Business That Refused to Print Gay Pride Shirts

Local Kentucky business owner Blaine Adamson and his company, Hands On Originals, are celebrating a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that has dismissed a case of discrimination filed against them.

The lawsuit was filed by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) in 2012, after Hands On Originals refused to print T-shirts for a gay pride event in Lexington. Adamson refused the order on religious grounds. Being a devout Christian, the business owner felt that printing gay pride messaging goes against his religious beliefs.

In 2014, Hands On Originals was found guilty of discrimination by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. However, the saga did not end there. The ruling was overturned by Fayette Circuit Court Judge James D. Ishmael Jr. in April 2015. According to Ishmael, the business had a right to refuse the order made by the GLSO.

In his decision, the judge pointed out that the company has also refused to print other orders that contained messaging that contradicts the owner’s religious beliefs. These include orders that were sexually explicit or those that promote violence.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals reinforced the decision in May 2017. “Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits HOO, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” says the appeals court decision.

The case was finally brought to a close in 2019 when the state’s highest court made a unanimous decision last Thursday, which states that the LGBT group did not have “statutory standing” and was therefore in no position to sue the company.

To explain this, only an individual complaint of discrimination may be filed according to the local anti-discrimination ordinance. Because the GLSO filed the case collectively as a group, the case was dismissed due to the technicality.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Hands On Originals said in a statement: “The First Amendment protects Blaine’s right to continue serving all people while declining to print messages that violate his faith. Justice David Buckingham recognized this in his concurring opinion, and no member of the court disagreed with that.”

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