LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky Human Rights Commission examiner has ordered a Christian screen printing company to print t-shirts that bear pro-homosexual messages and undergo diversity training for declining to make shirts for a “gay pride” celebration two years ago.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission issued the recommendations of its hearing examiner on Tuesday, declaring that Hands On Originals–a company that identifies as “Christian outfitters” on the home page of its website–violated the Lexington Fairness Ordinance by passing on the requested order because of its religious convictions.
The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington (GLSO) had wanted the company to print t-shirts for the 2012 Lexington Gay Pride Festival. When manager Blaine Adamson declined the order due to the company’s biblical convictions not to be partaker of another man’s sins (1 Timothy 5:22, Ephesians 5:7), GLSO filed a complaint with the HRC.
“I want the truth to come out—it’s not that we have a sign on the front door that says, ‘No Gays Allowed,’” owner Blaine Adamson said following the filing of the complaint. “We’ll work with anybody. But if there’s a specific message that conflicts with my convictions, then I can’t promote that.”
But HRC examiner Greg Munson ruled this week that Hands On Originals violated the law by not printing the shirts for the event.
“The evidence of record shows that the respondent discriminated against GLSO because of its members’ actual or imputed sexual orientation by refusing to print and sell to them the official shirts for the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival,” he wrote.
During a hearing regarding the matter this past June, GSLO representative Aaron Baker admitted to the commission that his desire to force Christians to print pro-homosexual messages works both ways, and that the homosexual companies could be forced to print messages for the Westboro Baptist “Church.”
“I believe that a gay printer would have to print a t-shirt for the Westboro Baptist Church,” he stated, referring to the controversial organization whose messages express a desire for Americans to burn in Hell rather than be saved. “And if the Westboro Baptist Church were to say, ‘Look, we’re a church; we’re promoting our church values by having our name on a T-shirt,’ I don’t see how you could refuse that.”
But Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Christian legal group assisting Hands On Originals, as well as local attorneys Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, of Lexington, said that no one should be forced to print messages that violate their convictions.
“No one wants to live in that kind of America—a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote the Westboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the GLSO,” said Hands On Originals’ co-counsel Bryan Beauman. “In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions.”
“No one should be forced by the government—or by another citizen—to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” agreed ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell. “Blaine declined the request to print the shirts not because of any characteristic of the people who asked for them, but because of the message that the shirts would communicate.”
In his decision, Munson ruled that Hands On Originals must accept orders to print t-shirts or other products that bear messages advocating for homosexuality, and mandated the company to undergo diversity training.
“The respondent is permanently enjoined from discriminating against individuals because of their actual or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity,” he wrote. “The respondent is ordered to participate in diversity training to be conducted by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission within 12 months of the issuance of this order.”