FRANKFORT, Ky. – Hands On Originals, a Lexington T-shirt company, has won another round in the ongoing legal dispute over whether it violated Lexington’s fairness ordinance by refusing to print shirts for a gay rights group.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that Hands On Originals didn’t violate the Lexington ordinance when it refused to print T-shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.
The appeals court ruling held that Hands On Originals was within its free speech rights to decline to print the T-shirts.
The closely watched legal dispute began in 2012 when Hands On Originals, citing religious beliefs, declined the gay rights group’s T-shirt order.
The nonprofit group Alliance Defending Freedom has been representing Hands On Originals.
Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel for the alliance, has said government "can't force citizens to surrender free-speech rights or religious freedom in order to run a small business.”
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Family Research Council Praises KY Court of Appeals Ruling in Favor of Christian Shop Owner
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled today that Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, has the freedom to decline orders that force him to promote messages contrary to his faith. In 2012, the Kentucky shop owner was targeted by a city commission after turning down a job to print rainbow t-shirts for a local gay pride parade. At the time, the Commission's Executive Director, Raymond Sexton, infamously said it's time for Christians in the marketplace "to leave their religion at home."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said he's pleased to see that the Kentucky Court of Appeals understands that freedom of the press extends to T-shirt presses, as well.
"This is a case in which it is difficult to overstate the enormous implications for both free speech and religious freedom," Perkins said. "The court was presented with this question: Does government have the power to force citizens to engage in speech they disagree with. The answer is a clear 'no.'
"This ruling affirms our nation's long history of protecting Americans from being compelled by the government to advocate a message to which one objects."