Score One For Religious Freedom: Judge Finds In Favor Of Printer Who Refused To Make Gay Pride T-shirts

If a straight group went to a gay t-shirt printer and ask for a shirt that read “Vote no to gay marriage” and the printer said “no, not going to do it”, would that be discrimination and worthy of a complaint and possible lawsuit? Is that bigoted towards a viewpoint? Or, is it something else? We find out what one judge has ruled

(Washington Post) The day before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a historic same-sex marriage case, a Kentucky court has ruled that a Christian T-shirt company has the right not to print gay pride festival shirts.

Hands on Originals (HOO), a Christian T- shirt company in Lexington, Ky., was asked to print shirts by Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) for a 2012 pride festival. When the company turned down the order, the GLSO filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. Though the commission found in favor of the GLSO, Judge James D. Ishmael of the Fayette Circuit Court reversed the ruling.

“This Court does not fault the Commission in its interest in insuring citizens have equal access to services but that is not what this case is all about,” Ishmael wrote.

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Ishmael made a distinction between a company choosing not to print a T-shirt because of the sexual orientation of a potential customer and choosing not to print a T-shirt because of its message.

The owners of the company “are Christians who believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and that they should strive to live consistently with its teachings,” the opinion read. As the company’s Web site states: “It is the prerogative of Hands On Originals to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.”

It’s the message, not the person/group. Now, if you’re saying to yourself “the Christians are just haters of gays”, well….

The court noted that HOO had also turned down orders for “a strip club, pens promoting a sexually explicit video, and shirts containing a violence related message” — in other words, shirts that it did not agree with that had nothing to do with homosexuality.

Huh. How about that. Obviously, the GLSO is unhappy

“The GLSO is disappointed at Judge Ishmael’s ruling,” the organization said in a statement posted to its Web site. “We feel that this is a reminder that there are still many out there who feel that their citizenship is worth more than that of members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is merely another battle on what has been a long road to full equality for the LGBTQ+ community; which, despite this decision, has been trending toward equality for all.”

In other words, that want to create a situation where their rights matter more than the rights of HOO. That’s the only way to read it. They want to use Force Of Government on HOO, forcing their viewpoint.

Government “can’t force citizens to surrender free-speech rights or religious freedom in order to run a small business, and this decision affirms that,” Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel for the Alliance for Freedom, an Arizona-based nonprofit that appealed the Commission’s ruling, said as the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. “… The court rightly recognized that the law protects [HOO owner Blaine Adamson’s] decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.”

It’s not the people/groups, it’s the message. If a straight group went to a gay printer and wanted “Straight Pride” and the printer said “no”, would that be acceptable? You bet. There are dozens of places in Lexington which could have made the t-shirts. GLSO could have gone on-line to have them made (and for probably less money), yet, they apparently went to the one place where they would be turned down.

Really, this isn’t just about religious freedom, but about freedom overall.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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