Gay Pride T-Shirt Dispute Heads To Kentucky Supreme Court

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Grace Carr Reporter

Kentucky’s Human Rights Commission sued a printing company for refusing to print gay pride t-shirts, and the case is now headed to the state’s Supreme Court.

After disagreement on a decision between Kentucky’s Court of Appeals judges, Chief Justice John Minton Jr. approved a hearing for the debate surrounding the Lexington-based printing company which defended its right to abstain from making t-shirts for a gay pride festival, citing religious reasons, according to the Courier Journal. It goes “against my belief system,” t-shirt company owner Blaine Adamson said, according to a court of appeals document.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission filed a suit against “Hands-On Originals” printing, arguing that the company violated the city’s policies outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The suit further alleges that the company transgressed the city’s “fairness ordinance,” which bars discrimination based on sexual identity.

“Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands-On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” said the state appeals court chief judge, Joy Kramer, maintaining that the printing company had acted within its rights to deny services based on religious reasons.

“The primary reason given to the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization for Hands-On Originals refusal to print the T-shirts is that it would have violated the HOO owner’s religious beliefs that sexual activity should not occur outside of marriage between a man and a woman,” said Court of Appeals Judge Jeff Taylor, who posits that the company’s refusal to print the shirts was indeed a violation of the city’s fairness ordinance.

This printing case mirrors the 2012 cake-baking episode wherein a Denver baker refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear this case after lower courts had previously ruled that Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had violated the state’s accommodation laws by refusing to serve a customer based on sexual orientation, according to The Washington Post.

A bakery in Bakersfield, Calif. also recently faced criticism for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple, the New York Daily News reported. (RELATED: Another Bakery Faces Backlash Because It Won’t Bake Cake For Gay Wedding).

No date for the upcoming Kentucky Supreme Court hearing has been set.

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