I’ve been told it’s easier to remember something if you say it three times.
But there are a few things that shouldn’t need repeating.
After two lower courts ruled in favor of promotional printer Blaine Adamson, upholding his freedom to decide what messages to print, you would think that would be the end of it. But the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission can’t seem to accept that everyone should have the freedom to live and work consistently with their beliefs.
That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief with the Kentucky Supreme Court, asking that it uphold the two lower courts’ rulings and make clear that no American should be forced to express a message that violates their convictions.
That might seem like common sense, but Blaine’s six-year legal battle shows that it could use some repeating.
It all started in 2012, when the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) asked Blaine to print shirts promoting the local pride festival. As a Christian, however, Blaine believes what the Bible teaches about marriage: that it is the lifelong union between one man and one woman. And he did not feel that he could print shirts that express a message in conflict with that teaching. Instead, he offered to connect them to another print shop that would create the shirts.
But that was not enough.
The GLSO chose to publicize Blaine’s decision not to print the shirts, which led to protests and boycotts against Hands On and caused several of Hands On’s large customers to stop working with them. The GLSO also filed a discrimination complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission.
Since then, ADF has been representing Blaine, asking that the judiciary uphold his right to decline to print messages that conflict with his faith.
For Blaine, it’s never about the person making the order, it’s about the message he is being asked to convey.
But the Commission ruled against Blaine. And it disregarded the fact that Blaine serves all people even though he can’t print messages that violate his faith. In fact, Hands On regularly declines orders because of the messages that they express. From 2010 to 2012 alone, Hands On turned down at least 13 orders because of their messages, including shirts promoting a violent message, shirts promoting a strip club, and pens promoting a sexually explicit video.
Declining to print a message, unlike declining to serve someone because of who they are, is not illegal. Because all Blaine did in this case is decline to print a message, the Commission should have dismissed the claims against him.
This freedom to decline to express messages is an issue that cuts across political lines and belief systems. In fact, lesbian owners of a print shop in New Jersey have publicly supported Blaine’s right to choose which messages he wishes to convey. They understand that if Blaine does not have the freedom to choose what messages to promote, neither do they – neither do any of us.
We are asking that Blaine not be forced to choose between either violating his faith or leaving his longtime profession. It’s a choice the government should never force its citizens to make, which is why Blaine is taking this stand.
As the brief explains: “The right to decide what to say and what not to say—to choose which ideas to express—is core to human freedom.”
Now that’s something worth repeating.