May 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a previous court victory for a Christian who in 2012 declined to make a t-shirt for the Lexington homosexual “Pride Festival,” saying to do so would violate his faith.
Blaine Adamson's Lexington-based company, Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters, offers “high quality, customized Christian apparel,” according to its website.
“The right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use someone else’s property,” wrote Appeals Court Chief Judge Joy Kramer. “The ‘conduct’ Hands On Originals chose not to promote was pure speech. … Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.”
In 2014, Adamson was found to be in violation of Lexington’s pro-LGBT “non-discrimination” ordinance by the city’s Human Rights Commission after politely turning down the “Lexington Pride Festival” design requested by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, which is now called the Pride Community Services Organization.
With help from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Adamson appealed the decision and in 2015 Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael ruled that Adamson cannot be compelled to print a message he opposes “advocating sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.”
The Appeals court victory upholds Ishmael’s ruling. Kramer ruled that there was no evidence demonstrating that Hands On Originals “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.”
Rather, Adamson objected to the pro-homosexuality message of the shirt. He accepts the historic biblical teaching that homosexual practice is sinful.
“Because of my Christian beliefs, I can’t promote that,” Adamson had told a Human Rights Commission hearing officer, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Specifically, it’s the Lexington Pride Festival, the name and that it’s advocating pride in being gay and being homosexual, and I can’t promote that message. It’s something that goes against my belief system.”
Adamson does business with homosexuals
ADF said in a press release celebrating the Appeals Court win: “In fact, Adamson regularly does business with and employs people who identify as LGBT.”
Adamson stressed in a promotional video that he was not singling out homosexuals and that he has turned down other messages because he was adhering to his Christian conscience.
“We've had to turn down several jobs because of whatever the message may have been, even from customers whom we've worked with for years … When they present a message that conflicts with my convictions, it's not something that I can print — that's the line for me,” he said.
Important victory for people of faith
Christian legal experts and pro-family advocates hailed the Appeals Court decision as an important affirmation of the First Amendment liberty of Americans not to be forced by the government to violate their faith.
“Americans should always have the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom to not express ideas that would violate their conscience,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued on behalf of Adamson before the appeals court in December.
Campbell said the May 12 decision “is a victory for printers and other creative professionals who serve all people but cannot promote all messages. 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.”
“Protecting Blaine’s freedom affirms everyone’s freedom, no matter the nature of their beliefs or convictions,” Campell said. “The government shouldn’t be able to force citizens to create speech that conflicts with their deepest convictions, and the trial court’s decision rightly affirmed that.”
Mario Diaz, legal counsel to Concerned Women for America, praised the decision as “a great win for freedom and liberty, and a loss only to those seeking to impose their personal beliefs on those around them.”
“Christians should not be forced to violate their consciences in order to make a living,” Diaz told LifeSiteNews. “It is way past time we as a society recognize the oxymoronic nature of demanding conformity to a particular worldview in the name of diversity.”
He said such pro-homosexual discrimination against Christians “is in no way demanded by our Constitution and indeed to require this sort of homogenizing of belief under threat of law is itself a grave violation of the First Amendment.”
Adamson’s case is among dozens in the United States and beyond in a battle of “rights” pitting committed Christians against LGBT advocates. In several of those cases, citizens who morally object to homosexuality or “gay marriage” have lost, as happened in 2013 in New Mexico, where husband-and-wife Christian photographers lost in the state’s highest court over their faith-based denial of a request to take photos at a lesbian “commitment ceremony.”
Homosexual small business owners agree
As LifeSiteNews reported in 2015, two lesbians owning their own t-shirt company supported Adamson’s conscience-based right of refusal, comparing his case hypothetically to their being compelled in the name of “nondiscrimination” to print a shirt for the Westboro Baptist Church of “God Hates Fags” notoriety.
“This isn't a gay or straight issue. This is a human issue,” said Diane DiGeloromo, one of two lesbians who owns BMP T-shirts, which sells t-shirts with “gay pride” designs.
“You put your blood and your sweat and your tears into [your business]” and “it's very personal. … When I put myself in [Mr. Adamson's] shoes, I could see it from his side,” said DiGeloromo’s lesbian partner and co-owner, Kathy Trautvetter.
The Herald-Leader reported that in his dissenting opinion, Judge Jeff S. Taylor said refusing service due to a person objecting to homosexuality is “deliberate and intentional discriminatory conduct … in violation of the fairness ordinance.”
Taylor argued that the Appeals decision undermined the Lexington pro-LGBT ordinance by failing to protect the free speech of minority groups, according to the Herald-Leader.