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LGBT group takes case against anti-Pride t-shirt printer to state Supreme Court

Joseph McCormick May 16, 2017
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An LGBT group has said it will appeal a decision by a court which sided with a t-shirt printing company which refused to print Pride t-shirts.

An appeals court last week ruled that the business did not discriminate against the Lexington Pride march by refusing to make t-shirts for the event.

The Lexington Human Rights Commission on Monday announced that it would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Pride flag

“We have 30 days to file [an appeal],” Raymond Sexton, the LHRC’s executive director told Fox News.

“We were surprised and disappointed about the court’s decision. Last night, our board unanimously voted to file for a discretionary review. Our position remains the same, that is it was about the message being printed then Hands On Originals would have declined to do the work immediately. It wasn’t until they found out what event the shirts were for that they had a problem,” he added.

Blaine Adamson, the company’s boss who is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, says: “When they present a message that conflicts with my religious beliefs, that’s not something that I can print. That’s the line for me.”

“I never thought living out my faith would be the cause of so much controversy,” Adamson added in a statement provided to Fox News.

“People often ask me why I made that decision. Here is what I tell them: I will work with any person, no matter who they are, no matter what their belief systems are. But when they present a message that conflicts with my religious beliefs, that’s not something that I can print. That’s the line for me.”

In her opinion last week, Chief Judge Joy Kramer wrote that the city of Lexington, Kentucky’s anti-discrimination ordinance did not protect the city’s Pride march organisers from discrimination by Hands On Originals.

She wrote that the law does not stop the company from “engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.”

The judge went on to say that the business had objected to the concept of Pride, and its message, not the sexual orientation of an individual.

“Thus, although the menu of services HOO provides to the public is accordingly limited, and censors certain points of view, it is the same limited menu HOO offers to every customer and is not, therefore, prohibited by the fairness ordinance,” the ruling states.

A judge on the panel dissented, saying the business did discriminate because its objection to Pride was “based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Attorneys for a t-shirt printing company which refused to print Pride t-shirts back in 2012, last year argued that it does not constitute discrimination.

A lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, Jim Campbell, argued that the owners of Hands on Originals in Lexington, Kentucky, objected to printing the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival t-shirt, but that they do not discriminate against gay people.

He compared printing Pride t-shirts to printing messages about illegal drug use, porn or violence.

He told the Kentucky Court of Appeals: “The record shows that they have declined over the years to promote messages that promote illegal drug use or strip clubs or pornographic movies or violent messages.”

“Hands on Originals declined to print the shirts in question because of the messages on them, not the sexual orientation of the individuals who asked for them.”

But a lawyer for the Human Rights Commission in Lexington in December argued that it is not possible to separate the message on the t-shirt from the discrimination.

Ed Dove said: “At what point does this message stop?… You can’t separate the message from the discrimination. That’s a red herring.”

The Human Rights Commission in Lexington, Kentucky back in 2012 sided with organisers of a Pride event, who were refused service by the Christian t-shirt printing company, because of its religious beliefs.

Hands On Originals, a t-shirt printing company, refused to print apparel for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organisation, ahead of the city’s parade.

The managing owner of Hands On, Blaine Adamson, had said he refused to complete the order from the GLSO because it is a Christian company, and doing so would have gone against his beliefs, reported Kentucky.com: He said:  “Due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of the company to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.”

This week a lesbian shop worker hit out at big brands selling t-shirts with the word “femme” on them.

Related topics: lexington, Pride, T-shirt, US

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