A Kentucky appellate court says the Christian owner of a printing shop in Lexington had the right to refuse to make T-shirts promoting a local gay pride festival.
The dispute started in 2012 when Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in Kentucky asked Hands on Originals to make T-shirts with the name and logo of a pride festival.
Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, said he refused to print the shirts because it violated his business’s policy of not printing messages that endorse positions in conflict with his convictions.
Mr. Adamson offered examples of other orders he refused, such as shirts featuring the word “bitches” or a depiction of Jesus dressed as a pirate.
The gay-rights group filed a complaint with the Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which in 2014 ordered Mr. Adamson to make the shirts.
Friday’s decision affirmed an earlier ruling from a lower court. The commission, which brought the appeal, said the store was in violation of a local “fairness” ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals, one level below the state’s Supreme Court, disagreed, ruling that the conduct by the business wasn’t discrimination, rather a decision not to promote certain speech.
This makes sense. Surely the court would have ruled differently if the shop owner had refused to sell gays generic t-shirts or those with messages they have printed for others. It is, however, entirely different to require someone to make and, therefore, implicitly endorse a position to which they object.
I would place the odds at north of 99 percent, by the way, that this particular t-shirt shop was targeted for lawfare by the group that sued.