Logo for the t-shirt in question
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"People don't have patience for this sort of attitude today."
A t-shirt business in Lexington, Kentucky has drawn the ire of critics after refusing to print shirts for the city's annual gay pride parade. The company, called Hands On Originals, told parade organizers that its Christian beliefs are the reason that it has declined the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington's (GLSO) request.
In response, GLSO has filed a discrimination complaint with Lexington's Human Rights Commission. The commission works on the local level to ensure that discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation and the like doesn't take place in employment, housing and public accommodations.
The gay rights group wants to make the community aware of the situation and, based on statements from the president of the organization's board of directors, is hoping that the stand-off will, to some degree, impact how the community interacts with the t-shirt company. Here's a copy of the complaint:
"Hands On Originals does a lot of business in this town, and people should be aware of the situation, so they can make an informed decision about whether they want to buy from them," said Aaron Baker, who is president of the group's board of directors. "It came as a shock because many of us are Christians, too, and what's that have to do with anything?"
The problem, of course, is that most Christian denominations, based on biblical principles, stand firmly opposed to homosexuality, gay marriage and other related social phenomena. Interestingly, the company's web site does have a logo that says "Hands on Faith" at the bottom left-hand side of its front page; it links out to a Christian apparel portion of the Hands On Originals business.
In addition to the complaint, a Facebook page has been created called "Boycott Hands On Originals." Already, the effort has over 1,200 supporters. Additionally, the Fayette County Public School District has placed a temporary hold on all orders from the t-shirt company, with the city's mayor, Jim Gray, saying, "People don't have patience for this sort of attitude today."
Here's a screen shot from the Facebook page:
The Lexington Herald-Leader has more about the situation:
Baker said the organization had gotten quotes from a number of Central Kentucky T-shirt companies, including Hands On Originals, and had selected it as the best local bid. The T-shirts for the fifth annual event were to include a stylized number 5 on the front along with "Lexington Pride Festival" and the event's sponsors on the back.
Baker said Hands On Originals co-owner Blaine Adamson told the GLSO in a follow-up call that the company was declining the order "because we're a Christian organization" but had found another company that would honor its price.
While Hands On Originals has declined to speak about the situation, the company did release a statement to the Herald-Leader. In it, while stating that the business does, indeed, employ and do business with people of all stripes, the business owners also made it clear that endorsing a cause they disagreed with was not something they were willing to do.
"Hands On Originals both employs and conducts business with people of all genders, races, religions, sexual preferences and national origins," the company's owner, Blaine Adamson, said. "However, 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."
The complaint that GLSO filed will likely lead Lexington's Human Rights Commission to send a letter to the business asking for a written response. A formal investigation into consumer practices will then follow. If the parties don't come to a settlement, the investigation could lead to compensatory damages being issued in GLSO's favor, as there may be complications for the Hands On Originals in its fight, as it is a business and not a church or Christian group.
Recently, The Blaze asked you some questions surrounding this very important scenario. Should Christian business owners be able to turn gay customers away -- and vice-versa? Here's the original poll that allowed you to weigh in on the discussion.
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