by Diane Robertson
Hurray!!! Free speech and religious freedom, for a business owner, won last week in a court in Kentucky! Those rulings are becoming fewer and farther between. Though the ruling will likely be appealed, one can always celebrate a win for freedom!!!!
Should a gay or lesbian couple be forced to print t-shirts that say “every child deserves a mother and a father”? The Human Rights Commission in Lexington, KY probably thinks not, but they did think that a Christian printing company should be required to print gay pride t-shirts for the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival.
Hands On Originals, owned by Blaine Adamson, a devout Christian, said at the time, “Because of my Christian beliefs, I can’t promote that.” It went against his beliefs to take pride in a lifestyle that was against his religion. He was found guilty by the local human rights commission.
Adamson appealed the decision to a state circuit court. In 2015, that court ruled in his favor. The Lexington Human Rights Commission appealed that ruling. On Friday, the Kentucky state court of appeals upheld the lower court’s decision.
The decision was 2-1. The court ruled that Adamson did not break the city fairness law because his objection to printing the t-shirts was about the message and not about the people.
Chief Judge Joy Kramer wrote for the majority, “The right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use someone else’s property.”
“In other words, the ‘service’ Hands On Originals offers is the promotion of messages. The ‘conduct’ Hands On Originals chose not to promote was pure speech. There is no contention that Hands On Originals is a public forum in addition to a public accommodation,” she explained. “Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.”
And just like that, freedom won a little bit this week. It’s not freedom for the entire nation. There are many places where business owners are losing the rights of their religion, speech, and property. But in Kentucky right now, a business owner won the right to refuse to promote a message that he does not believe in.