Kentucky Supreme Court Drops LGBT Activists’ Suit Against Print Shop

‘For more than seven years, government officials used this case to turn Blaine’s life upside down, even though … the lawsuit didn’t comply with the city’s own legal requirements…’

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Lexington Pride Festival / IMAGE: Alex Orlov via Youtube

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The Kentucky Supreme Court dismissed LGBT activists’ lawsuit against a print shop owner who refused to make a gay pride T-shirt because of his religious beliefs.

The print shop, Hands-On Original, declined a T-shirt order from Lexington, Kentucky’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization for the city’s 2012 Gay Pride Festival. Shortly after, the LGBT organization took Hands-On Original and the shop’s owner, Blaine Adamson, to court.

The state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the LGBT group didn’t have the legal standing to push a gay rights law down the throat of an individual whose right to refuse service is protected by the First Amendment.

“While this result is no doubt disappointing to many interested in this case and its potential outcome, the fact that the wrong party filed the complaint makes the discrimination analysis almost impossible to conduct, including issues related to freedom of expression and religion,” the judges wrote.

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In a concurring opinion, Justice David Buckingham wrote that “Hands On was in good faith objecting to the message it was being asked to disseminate.” He then quoted an earlier U.S. Supreme Court ruling: “[W]hen speech is compelled…, individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning….”

Lexington’s Human Rights Commission attempted to force Adamson to create T-shirts for the gay rights parade, and even required him to attend diversity training. Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit that represented Adamson, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling makes clear that “this case never should have happened.”

“For more than seven years, 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.”