Christian T-Shirt Maker Fights for His Rights

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A Kentucky T-Shirt printer who found himself torn between the law and his religious beliefs is still fighting tirelessly for his First Amendment rights. Blaine Adamson, who owns Hand On Originals, refused to print T-shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival on behalf of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization. The LGBT group filed a complaint against him with the local Human Rights Commission, accusing him of discriminating against gays. The commission decided in favor of the complainants in 2014 and ordered Adamson to print any messages requested of his company, regardless of whether or not they conflicted with his faith.

Adamson, together with his attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom, successfully appealed the decision shortly thereafter, but now the Human Rights Commission is appealing that ruling to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

“Protecting Blaine’s freedom affirms everyone’s freedom, no matter the nature of their beliefs or convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell. “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.”

In ADF’s brief to the court, they said that a victory for Adamson would be a victory for all Americans, including LGBT entrepreneurs. “It is thus no surprise that a lesbian owned and operated t-shirt company and groups that strongly support gay rights have publicly supported HOO. For just as surely as the First Amendment protects HOO against the GLSO’s discrimination claim, it also forecloses a religious-discrimination claim against an LGBT printer who refuses to create materials that disparage gays and lesbians.”

Why is this so difficult for LGBT supporters to understand? Are they so blinded by claims of discrimination that they can’t see how this kind of coerced speech is a menace to American freedom? At no point did Adamson refuse to do business with gay customers. The difference between discriminating against people and discriminating against a message is not subtle. The former is illegal; the latter is not. But somehow the courts and commissions in several similar cases keep missing this crucial point.

In a way, it would be better for everyone if the Kentucky Court of Appeals were to rule against Adamson. This is a matter that deserves to be settled by the Supreme Court, even with as little faith as we have in that institution. Christian business owners are being ruined for doing nothing worse than following their religious convictions and exercising their right to free speech – a right that includes the freedom not to say what others want you to say. These cases center around gay customers, but they really have nothing to do with them. This is about freedom, plain and simple. Hopefully, at some point, the nation’s highest court will agree.