The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Christian business owner who refused to print t-shirts for the Lexington Pride Festival in 2012 because the gay pride message on the shirts clashed with his religious beliefs.
On May 12, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael's decision to strike down the Lexington Human Rights Commission's finding that Hands On Originals had violated the city's fairness ordinance. The said ordinance prohibits businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation, the Lexington Herald Leader relays.
Business owner Blaine Adamson explained that he turned down the orders of Lexington's Gay and Lesbian Services Organization because he does not agree with "pride in being gay."
"Because of my Christian beliefs, I can't promote that. Specifically, it's the Lexington Pride Festival, the name and that it's advocating pride in being gay and being homosexual, and I can't promote that message," Adamson explained to a Human Rights Commission hearing officer. "It's something that goes against my belief system.
In the majority opinion written by Chief Judge Joy A. Kramer, she said a Christian business owner should not be forced to spread a message that he disagrees with. The court said the ordinance does not cover speech, and what Adamson did was different from refusing to serve the LGBT group on the basis of their members' sexual behavior.
"The right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use someone else's property," Kramer wrote. "In other words, the 'service' Hands On Originals offers is the promotion of messages."
While Adamson is thankful that the justice system worked in his favor, other Christian business owners are not as fortunate. Sweet Cakes owners Aaron and Melissa Klein, who made headlines for turning down an order for a same-sex wedding cake, announced in October that they have closed their shop, Oregon Live reports.
In 2015, the Kleins were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages to the lesbian couple that sued them. The Christian couple already closed down their store in Gresham in 2013, but they continued their business at home until last year.