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Kentucky Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Shop Owner

| Written by Corine Gatti-Santillo |

Hands On Originals, managed and owned by Blaine Adamson. Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom

Devout Christian and print shop owner Blaine Adamson of Lexington, Ky. won the right to refuse to design “Gay Pride” T-shirts, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled.

The court found the lawsuit “lacked statutory standing to assert a claim against Hands On Originals under the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government ordinance,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) reported.

“Government officials used this case to turn Blaine’s life upside down, even though we told them from the beginning that the lawsuit didn’t comply with the city’s own legal requirements,” ADF senior counsel Jim Campbell said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects Blaine’s right to continue serving all people while declining to print messages that violate his faith. Justice David Buckingham recognized this in his concurring opinion, and no member of the court disagreed with that.” ADF pressed that Adamson wasn’t discriminating on sexual orientation but disagreed with the messaging.

The chaos started when Hands On Originals refused to print messages for the Lexington Pride Festival hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) in 2012. They tried to connect the customer to another print shop for the same price. Dissatisfied, the GLSO then registered a grievance with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, alleging bigotry. They ruled that Adamson must print the information on the shirts, despite his faith.

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However, the state court system ruled in support of Adamson all three times. The Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with the embattled owner in May of 2017. Adamson had the right to refuse orders that conflicted with his religious beliefs. Judge Kramer said there was a lack of evidence that Hands On Originals “refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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“The commission wasted taxpayer dollars and judicial resources by pressing this complaint in the first place and then appealing it all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court,” said ADF-allied attorney and co-counsel Bryan Beauman of Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC. “We hope that going forward the commission will respect the free speech rights of its citizens.”

Adamson wrote in an Op-ed on Aug. 31 for Fox News that his company works with all people regardless of sexual orientation.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, I work with all people, no matter who they are. I both serve and employ gay people. In fact, we’ve printed materials for a lesbian musician who played at that very same Pride festival. While it’s hard for me to even imagine it, that could force me to have to choose between following my faith and continuing the promotional work that I love — a career that for decades has provided not only for my family but also for the families of the more than 30 people we employ from diverse backgrounds.”

                      About the Author
Corine Gatti-Santillo has spent two decades as an editor, investigative reporter and web content strategist; her work has appeared in The Christian Post, LifeZette and CBN, among other outlets. She is host of the program “Mom on the Right” on The Liberty Beacon TV. She and her husband, Rocky, live in Virginia with their infant daughter and yellow lab Maggie.

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