In March 2012, Blaine Adamson of promotional T-Shirt company Hands on Originals was approached by a customer who wanted him to produce shirts promoting the upcoming gay pride parade in Lexington, Kentucky. Before the customer had even finished explaining what they needed, Adamson knew that his company would be unable to fulfill the order. As a Christian, Adamson was accustomed to having to decline orders that endorsed a message he didn’t agree with. While fully willing to make t-shirts and other printing products for gays and other individuals and groups whose lifestyles he might not agree with, he was not going to endorse a MESSAGE that he felt violated his faith.
“As the customer told me the design and wording he had in mind, it became clear to me that we weren’t going to be able to print those shirts,” Adamson wrote in a Fox News op-ed this week. “But as I told him at the time, I wanted to make sure he was taken care of, so I offered to send his order to a company I knew would print the shirts for the same price I would have charged.
“Instead of accepting my offer, the group organizing the Pride festival filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission,” he continued. “The complaint from the group — which ended up getting its shirts printed by another print shop free of charge — accused me of refusing to work with LGBT customers.”
This was, of course, a blatant, defamatory lie. Nonetheless, Adamson found himself caught up in a lawsuit that was little different from the ones that have ensnared Christian business owners in many other parts of the country. In each case, complainants (actual state governments, in many instances) accuse the business owners of discriminating against LGBT customers. In each case, the owners are guilty of doing nothing of the kind. They are discriminating against MESSAGES. They are discriminating against EVENTS (gay weddings, pride marches). Sorry, but messages and events are not protected by discrimination laws.
“My latest stop was the Kentucky Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in my case on Aug. 23. If the government has its way, I will be required to print messages that violate my faith,” Adamson explained. “While it’s hard for me to even imagine it, that could force me to have to choose between following my faith and continuing the promotional work that I love — a career that for decades has provided not only for my family but also for the families of the more than 30 people we employ from diverse backgrounds.”
If such were to happen, it would be open season on individuals of faith who run businesses who could be targeted by LGBT customers looking to cause trouble. Indeed, it already is, because the courts have not come down strongly enough in favor of the First Amendment. It’s time for that to change. If it doesn’t change in the Kentucky Supreme Court, then it needs to change in the U.S. Supreme Court. Enough is enough.