1st Amendment fight as Christians ordered to promote homosexuality
A Kentucky clothing company that refused to produce T-shirts for a “gay”-pride festival because of the owner’s Christian beliefs is appealing a state Human Rights Commission’s ruling of “unlawful discrimination.”
Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals in Lexington, has employed and served homosexuals, but he refused a request by the local Gay and Lesbian Services Organization to promote messages that violate his beliefs.
And an attorney defending Adamson said the ramifications could be significant.
“A book editor or ghostwriter could be forced to write a book advocating messages they find contrary to their convictions based on this ruling,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell said. “The litmus test now seems to be: Does the order arguably implicate a protected class or a protected characteristic? If it does, then the logic of it … would require every business that promotes messages and ideas to go against their beliefs.
“This would refer to every business, not just printers, but marketers, editors, writers and speechwriters, political groups and others that help customers endorse their brand and expression could be forced to participate in printing something if that object arguably implicated a protected class.”
Adamson filed an appeal Monday in state court through his legal counsel.
“No one should be forced by the government to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree. Laws that do that are fundamentally unjust,” said Campbell.
The complaint, citing a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision, argues that at the “heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person – including for-profit businesses and their owners – should decide for [themselves] the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression.”
The commission’s order, the complaint contends, “impermissibly empowers groups like the GLSO (backed by the coercive force of the public-accommodations ordinance) to determine for business owners like Mr. Adamson ‘the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression.’”
In 2012, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization asked the company to print T-shirts for the Lexington Pride Festival. The request was submitted without letting the company know the desired message for the shirts.
When the homosexual group decided to go with Hands On Originals after it came in with the lowest bid, GLSO disclosed that the shirts were to promote the festival. The company then declined the work, explaining that creating and publicizing messages that promoted homosexuality were incompatible with the Christian values on which the company was based.
Hands On Originals then offered to find another printer that would do the shirts for the same price by the deadline.
Despite the accommodation, the homosexual group refused and filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Adamson contends, however, the issue is free speech.
ADF noted Adamson employs homosexuals and regularly prints materials for people who identify themselves as “gay.”
In an interview with WND in 2012, Raymond Sexton, executive director for the commission, said “gay” owners could refuse to print anti-”gay” literature, but a Christian company refusing to print T-shirts for a “gay” event would not have the same right.
Sexton told WND that if a “gay” printing company were asked to print T-shirts for controversial Westboro Baptist Church saying, “Homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God,” the “gay” company would have the right to refuse the order.
“If the company does not approve of the message, that is a valid non-discriminatory reason to refuse the work,” he said.
He also said a black business owner would have the right to refuse to print a flyer for a Ku Klux Klan rally.
However, when asked if the same would apply to Hands On Originals if it chose not to support “gay” pride festivals yet didn’t discriminate against a person because he is “gay,” Sexton said “possibly.”
Written by JACK MINOR
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