A Christian printer who was found guilty of discrimination by a civil rights commission and told that his employees would need to attend diversity training after he refused to print shirts for a gay pride parade is fighting back, appealing the ruling in Kentucky state court.
Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, a Lexington-based T-shirt company, filed the appeal through his attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, arguing that the messages he was asked to print violated his deeply held religious beliefs.
The challenge comes after Greg Munson of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission announced in October that Hands on Originals discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington when it refused to print the shirts back in 2012.
The civil rights commission subsequently officially adopted this sentiment in November, finding that Adamson — who regularly does business with and employs gays and lesbians — violated the local non-discrimination ordinance, according to a Alliance Defending Freedom press release.
“No one should be forced by the government to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree. Laws that do that are fundamentally unjust,” senior legal counsel Jim Campbell said in a statement. “We are appealing the commission’s decision because the First Amendment protects the freedom of every American to decline to speak on any issue without fear of punishment.”
In this case, Campbell said that Adamson wasn’t opposed to the individuals requesting the shirts, rather he disagreed with the message.
The Alliance Defending Freedom has also raised another related issue: if Christians like Adamson are forced to print shirts that violate their religious beliefs, this would also mean that gay and lesbian-owned businesses will be forced to print messages from groups that they, too, disagree with — something the firm believes violates the First Amendment.
“In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions,” Adamson‘s co-counsel Bryan Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC added in a statement. “America should not be a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote groups like the Westboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.”
This is the very issue that was raised last month by Kathy Trautvetter and Diane DiGeloromo, a lesbian couple who own and operate BMP T-shirts, a New Jersey-based printing company.
Trautvetter told TheBlaze that she and DiGeloromo — who spoke with TheBlaze.com and appeared on The Glenn Beck Program — launched their part-time business back in 2003 when they began doing graphic design and visual arts work for gay pride events.
Despite disagreeing on the finer details surrounding homosexuality, they support Adamson’s right to defend his Christian views and his business.
“The idea is that when you own your own business, it’s your own art and creation — it’s very personal … it takes a long time to build a business,” Trautvetter said. “When someone wants to force you to go against it — that’s what stuck me right in the heart. I really felt for Blaine.”
Speaking specifically about a civil rights commissioner’s call for Hands on Originals’ employees to attend diversity training as a result of the order refusal, she said that she doesn’t believe that the mandate will resolve the issue.
“To me, it’s like you can’t force acceptance, you have to gain acceptance,” Trautvetter said. “We’ve had a lot of people approach us on certain things … and we’ll tell them right up front, ‘We’re a lesbian-owned and operated [business]. This is what we do.’”
Read more about what she had to say here.