Christian printer wins court battle in T-shirt discrimination case

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Hands on Originals (HOO) is a Christian T-shirt company in Lexington, Ky. that was asked to print shirts for a 2012 pride festival. The company turned down the order. |

LEXINGTON,Ky. (Christian Examiner) -- A privately owned print shop found judicial favor this week when a Kentucky court ruled against forcing the company to print messages that opposed the owner's religious views and violated his religious freedoms.

Fayette County Circuit Court's ruling Monday, overturned a previous decision by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission from November 2014 which claimed Hands On Originals and its owner Blaine Adamson violated a local ordinance against sexual-orientation discrimination.

Adamson's legal counsel, the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued in court that the owner's refusal to print expressive t-shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization which promoted a gay pride parade was within his rights because the message being printed opposed his religious views.

Blaine Adamson, the Christian owner of the t-shirt print company Hands on Originals won a legal battle launched by gay activists after a court ruled he was in his rights when he declined to print shirts for a gay pride parade. | Alliance Defending Freedom video screenshot

"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," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell said in a written release.

Campbell also noted during the case hearing that a decision against Adamson would require all printers -- including homosexuals -- to print all messaging regardless if they found it expressed an idea they deemed objectionable.

The ADF lawyer demonstrated in court that Adamson's refusal to produce the shirts was a matter of free speech and religious freedom and in no way intended to target homosexuals for discrimination -- by presenting evidence that Adamson regularly conducted business with homosexual customers and employed some gay employees.

Campbell also introduced testimony that Adamson showed good will when he attempted to connect the GLSO to a printer who could accommodate them for the same price.

Ultimately, the court concluded that Adamson was protected under his right to free speech as well as his religious freedom when he declined to print the expressive shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival because the printer took issue with a message, not an individual.

"In short, HOO's declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of GLSO and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members," the decision read. "In point of fact, there is nothing in the record before the Commission that the sexual orientation of any individual that had contact with HOO was ever divulged or played any part in this case."

The victory for Hands on Originals comes as Christian bakers in Oregon were ordered to pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple for refusing to cater their same-sex wedding. Other high profile cases pitting religious freedoms against homosexual rights include a Christian florist in Washington and a Christian photographer in New Mexico who lost separate rulings for declining to participate in gay weddings. Also, the Christian owner of an Indiana pizzeria was flooded with threats, including arson, after answering hypothetically that she would not cater a ceremony for a gay couple.


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