Much attention this week has surrounded Christian bakers who were forced to pay nearly $137,000 after refusing to make a lesbian wedding cake, but there's also a noteworthy development in a separate case involving a printer who declined to make gay pride-themed T-shirts.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a First Amendment watchdog, filed an amicus brief in the Kentucky Court of Appeals on Monday, against Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, a printshop based in Lexington, Kentucky, according to the Christian Post.
As TheBlaze previously reported, Adamson’s case began when he refused to print T-shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington and the group subsequently filed a discrimination complaint in March 2012.
Adamson and his attorneys have consistently argued that Hands on Originals is a Christian business and that the views presented on the proposed T-shirts — which advertised a gay pride festival — violated his religious beliefs.
The case has volleyed back and forth in the courts over the past few years. In 2014, Greg Munson of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission announced that Hands on Originals discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington when it refused to print the shirts.
A recommended ruling at the time called for Hands On Originals to no longer discriminate based on gender identity or sexuality, and to also force some employees to go through diversity training.
But in April 2015, a Fayette County Circuit Court ruling overturned a previous decision by the human rights commission, finding that Adamson was within his rights when he declined to make shirts for the Lexington Pride Parade. Now, the case is on appeal, as the battle continues.
“The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way,” Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jim Campbell said in a statement at the time.
Despite Adamson's latest victory, though, Americans United said in a statement this week that Adamson and Hands on Originals do not "have a free-speech or free-exercise right to violate Lexington-Fayette Urban County, Ky., anti-discrimination laws."
It is a sentiment that was also included in a friend-of-the-court brief that was filed against both Adamson and his business.
A screen shot from HandsOnOriginals.com
"Lexington-Fayette Urban County’s anti-discrimination law means no one has the right to treat LGBT people as second-class citizens," the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said in a statement. "Hands On Originals does not get a special exemption from this regulation simply because of its owner’s religious convictions."
Lynn and Americans United for Separation of Church and State claimed in the brief that acceptance of Adamson's arguments would "put Kentucky courts in conflict with First Amendment decisions from across the country" and "allow nearly any business alleging that its provision of goods or services is expressive to discriminate as it pleased."
"Gay men, lesbians, and members of other protected classes (and their children) would not know which businesses they could patronize and could not expect the law to protect their rights of access to public accommodations," the brief states.
But in arguing for Adamson’s rights, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, has raised a 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 said last year. “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 also raised last year 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.”
Read more about the case here.
(H/T: Christian Post)
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