A Kentucky Supreme Court justice has set a hearing to review a lower court’s decision that a business owner has the right to refuse to promote “gay” pride events.
The Courier-Journal reported Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. approved a review of the case brought by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission against the Lexington-based company Hands-On Originals, which specializes in prints on T-shirts.
WND reported the commission accused owner Blaine Adamson of violating a local “fairness” ordinance by refusing to print a message promoting homosexual activism.
But lower courts ruled that while Adamson was required to serve any customer, he was not required to promote any message.
The core argument also is before the U.S. Supreme Court next week in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who was ordered by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to undergo reindoctrination for refusing to promote a same-sex “wedding” with his artistry.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending Hands-On Originals, opposes the hearing before the Kentucky Supreme Court, arguing that even gay-rights groups have agreed that business owners such as Adamson can’t be forced to endorse a particular message.
“Rarely are cases that involve expressive freedom, religious liberty and LGBT rights so clear cut that they unite people with opposing ideological perspectives. But this case does,” ADF told the court earlier.
“Lesbian print-shop owners, LGBT advocates and groups that support gay rights have joined with free-speech and religious-liberty groups, and they all agree that the commission cannot force HOO to print messages that conflict with its owners’ beliefs.”
ADF argued the court of appeals “decided this case based on the well-established distinction between unlawfully refusing services because of a customer’s protected status and lawfully declining to produce speech because of its message.”
It was in 2012 when the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in Lexington wanted to buy T-shirts with their message. Adamson said the request went “against my belief system.”
The Kentucky Court of Appeals later took Adamson’s position, on a 2-1 vote, which affirmed a decision by Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael.
“Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands-On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” said the decision from Joy Kramer, chief judge of the state appeals court.
WND reported Adamson had offered to find another printer to do the work, but GLSO refused.
Instead, the group demanded that Adamson be forced to print their message.
The most recent Kentucky court ruling stated: “Nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, 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. Adamson testified he never learned of or asked about the sexual orientation or gender identity of Don Lowe, the only representative of GLSO with whom he spoke regarding the T-shirts.
“Don Lowe testified he never told Adamson anything regarding his sexual orientation or gender identity. The GLSO itself also has no sexual orientation or gender identity: it is a gender-neutral organization that functions as a support network and advocate for individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered,” the court found.
“Also, nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, 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 was engaging in an activity or conduct exclusively or predominantly by a protected class of people.”
The ruling said: “The ‘service’ HOO offers is the promotion of messages. The ‘conduct’ HOO chose not to promote was pure speech. There is no contention that HOO is a public forum in addition to a public accommodation. Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits HOO, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.”