A Kentucky appeals court ruled on Friday that a Christian T-shirt maker did not discriminate in his refusal to print shirts promoting a gay pride event.
In the court ruling, Chief Judge Joy Kramer stated that there was no evidence to prove that Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals, a shirt printing company in Lexington, “refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Kramer said that instead, Adamson was found to have objected to spreading the message that the group wished to print on the shirts, rather than rejecting them based on their sexual orientation.
“Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” Kramer wrote.
The court voted 2 to 1 in favor of Adamson, the latest ruling in a case that has been heard by various courts over the course of five years.
“Today’s decision is a victory for printers and other creative professionals who serve all people but cannot promote all messages,” said Jim Campbell, the senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The legal group defended Adamson at the Fayette Circuit Court, which also ruled in Adamson’s favor.
“It is also a victory for all Americans because it reassures us all that, no matter what you believe, the law can’t force you to express a message in conflict with your deepest convictions,” he added.
In 2012, Adamson declined to print shirts for a gay pride festival hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization. The organization then filed a complaint against him, and two years thereafter, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ruled that the law requires Adamson to print shirts even if the messages printed on it violate his religious conscience.
Adamson, with Alliance Defending Freedom, filed an appeal with the Fayette Circuit Court, which sided with Adamson. Then the commission appealed to the Kentucky Appeals Court, which affirmed the circuit court ruling.
“People often ask me why I made that decision,” Adamson told Fox News. “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.”
Adamson had previously declined to print shirts for other customers based on their messages, such as those that were violent or sexually explicit.
Meanwhile, the Lexington Human Rights Commission expressed it would file an appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“I think we just wanted to fight on,” Bob Orbach, who chairs the commission, told WEKU. “We wanted to go as far as we could go with this because in principal we believe we are right.”
“This ruling is not about free speech, it is about how LGBTQ+ persons are treated in their communities every day, as second class citizens,” said the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.