– No matter what their views are, Lexington-area printers will be required to promote messages that conflict with their deepest beliefs if the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission adopts a hearing examiner’s recommended ruling
issued Monday. That’s the conclusion of both Alliance Defending Freedom and the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, two groups that represent opposite sides in a case before the commission
The recommended ruling, which the commission can now either adopt or modify, concluded that Lexington printer Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals violated a local ordinance against sexual-orientation discrimination when he declined to print shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival even though he regularly does business with and employs people who identify as homosexual. But the representative of the group that filed the complaint agreed with ADF attorneys during a hearing that such a ruling will also force printers who identify as homosexual to print materials expressing messages they find objectionable.
“No one should be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the hearing examiner on behalf of Hands On Originals on June 19. “Blaine declined the request to print the shirts not because of any characteristic of the people who asked for them, but because of the message that the shirts would communicate.”
“I believe that a gay printer would have to print a T-shirt for the Westboro Baptist Church…,” said GLSO representative Aaron Baker at the June 19 hearing, referring to the notorious Kansas group that regularly espouses vitriolic messages. “And if the Westboro Baptist Church were to say, ‘Look, we’re a church; we’re promoting our church values by having our name on a T-shirt,’ I don’t see how you could refuse that.”
“No one wants to live in that kind of America – a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote the Westboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the GLSO,” noted Hands On Originals’ co-counsel Bryan Beauman with Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, of Lexington. “In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions.”
ADF attorneys say that Hands On Originals’ history of doing business with and employing people who identify as homosexual shows that the hearing examiner’s ruling in Baker v. Hands On Originals lacks factual support. Instead, ADF attorneys explain, Adamson objects to promoting messages with which he disagrees, as is evidenced by several other jobs he has turned down in the past because he did not want to promote the message he was asked to print. Unfortunately, Campbell explained, the recommended ruling ignores these points and, instead, inaccurately portrays Hands On Originals’ operations in a way that is unsupported by the evidence both sides submitted.