In many people’s minds, it would have been easy for Blaine Adamson to “just print the shirts” when he was contacted about making shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival. He could have saved himself the lengthy legal battle, the lost customers, and the derogatory messages and phone calls. But Blaine’s conscience would have suffered.
“I want God to find joy in what we do and how we work, how we treat our employees, and the messages we print,” says Blaine. “So if someone walks in and says, ‘Hey, I want you to help promote something,’ I can’t promote something that I know goes against what pleases Him.”
Thankfully, a Kentucky appellate court has recognized Blaine’s constitutional freedom not to print messages that he disagrees with. Today the court affirmed the Fayette Circuit Court’s ruling that Blaine, managing owner of Hands On Originals (HOO) in Lexington, Kentucky, is free to decide for himself the ideas and messages he wants to express.
The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, which requested the shirts and filed the original complaint against Blaine with the Lexington-Fayette Urban Country Human Rights Commission, had tried to make this a case about discrimination. But the truth is that Blaine didn’t discriminate against anyone. And that’s exactly what the Kentucky Court of Appeals said in its ruling.
Both Blaine and HOO regularly do business with and employ people who identify as LGBT. His decision not to print the shirts was because of the message that the shirts would promote. It had nothing to do with any characteristic of the person requesting them.
“Americans should always have the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom to not express ideas that would violate their conscience,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell. “Today’s decision is a victory for printers and other creative professionals who serve all people but cannot promote all messages.”
No matter what you believe, we should all be able to agree that the government should not have the power to force anyone to express or promote ideas that they disagree with.
Lesbian owners of a print shop in New Jersey, who went on national television to support Blaine, also recognize that being pressured into violating your conscience is not right. This kind of coercion violates the constitutional freedoms of creative professionals who make a living by creating custom materials.
The court’s ruling is a huge win for freedom of conscience, and we will continue to defend Blaine should his case be appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court. In the meantime, it is our hope that other courts will uphold the freedom of other creative professionals nationwide who are having to fight for this same freedom.
Violating your conscience should never be the price of doing business.
Freedom Must Be Defended
With your prayers and financial support, we can continue to provide Christians like Blaine with a strong legal defense free of charge.
Because anyone who is willing to stand up for their God-given freedoms—and for ours—should never have to stand alone.