Categories: Politics

Kentucky Supreme Court Hears Gay Pride T-Shirt Discrimination Case

By
Ryland Barton @RylandKY

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments Friday over whether a Lexington company was allowed to refuse to print T-shirts for organizers of the city’s gay pride parade.

Blaine Adams, the owner of Hands On Originals, refused to make T-shirts for Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in 2012, saying that doing so would have violated his religious beliefs.

GLSO filed a complaint with the Lexington Human Rights Commission, which said the company had violated the city’s fairness ordinance.

But Hands On Originals appealed the decision and courts have so far ruled against the human rights commission’s decision, saying the company’s actions were protected under the First Amendment.

James Campbell, an attorney for Hands On Originals, argued the case before the state Supreme Court on Friday.

“The first amendment in this case cuts in Hands On Originals’ favor. Because the first amendment ensures that the government can’t use a law to force someone to print or convey a message that they find objectionable,” Campbell said.

The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization argues that the company violated Lexington’s fairness ordinance, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The shirt they asked Hands On Originals to print said “Lexington Pride Festival” on it with the number 5, signifying the 5th anniversary of the event.

Edward Dove, an attorney for Lexington’s Human Rights Commission, argued that Hands On Originals was engaging in targeted censorship.

“That’s why we have a public accommodations ordinance: to stop businesses from allowing certain populations to be discriminated against and not enjoy the goods and services that are being offered by that business,” Dove said.

Justices asked questions about whether the company’s interpretation of the law would allow businesses to discriminate against other groups based on messages about race, religion or sexual orientation.

Justice Michelle Keller compared the company’s refusal to print the T-shirts to housing and business discrimination against Catholics in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“I mean that would still be OK under this analysis, wouldn’t it? I mean that kind of overt discrimination between faiths? As long as it is tied to the production of printed material,” Keller said.

Twelve cities in Kentucky have fairness ordinances, which forbid discrimination by businesses based on sexual orientation.

Some Kentucky lawmakers have for years pushed for a statewide fairness law, but the policy has never received an official vote in a legislative committee.

Others have proposed legislation that would gut local fairness ordinances by protecting businesses from being sued or having to pay fines for violating the laws.

Share

Recent Posts

Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies at 75

Roberts, who joined the fledgling network in 1978, was a seasoned Washington insider who developed a distinctive voice as a…

September 17, 2019 10:38 am

Groups Work To Raise Awareness, Combat Veteran Suicide Rates In Kentucky

Nonprofits and Louisville's VA hospital are working to raise awareness about the prevalence of suicide among military veterans.

September 17, 2019 5:59 am

Kentucky Democrats: Elections Board Improperly Deactivating Voter Registrations

The Kentucky Democratic Party says that more than 150,000 Kentucky voters have been put on an “inactive list” by the…

September 16, 2019 4:10 pm

Hourly Workers At GM’s Bowling Green Plant Join Nationwide Strike

Some of General Motors' hourly workers in Bowling Green are picketing Monday after negotiations over a new labor contract hit…

September 16, 2019 3:34 pm

West Louisville Residents Suggest Paths To Revitalization Without Gentrification

Around 100 residents and stakeholders gathered Friday for a forum about responsible revitalization in Louisville’s West End.

September 16, 2019 2:13 pm

Hoover, Other Legislators Drop Lawsuit Against Sexual Harassment Accuser

The legislators sued a former communications staffer for the Republican House Caucus for allegedly disclosing details of a secret sexual…

September 16, 2019 12:01 pm