A Kentucky t-shirt company refusing to print shirts for a gay pride parade, citing their Christian faith, has been found guilty of discrimination by a civil rights commissioner. The verdict calls for the employees at the Lexington-based company to attend diversity training; however, it seems that the company intends to challenge the verdict.
Last Tuesday, Gren Munson of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission announced that Hands on Originals discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in their refusal to print the shirts. It was previously reported that the gay rights group first filed a complaint against the company in March of 2012, alleging they were being discriminated against due to their sexual orientation.
Since that time, company owner Blaine Adamson has argued that his company is a Christian-based business, and the views supported by the group’s t-shirts, advertising a gay pride festival and parade, violated his religious beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, has both supported and defended Adamson throughout the lengthy two-year legal process, with senior counsel Jim Campbell stating that the civil rights commissioner’s initial ruling isn’t definitely clear.
Campbell went on to claim that local human rights commissions often have “scattered, unclear rules.” Munson’s preliminary ruling will not be official until it is either modified or adopted by the entire Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. Campbell intends on appealing the ruling.
The recommended ruling from Munson requires Hands on Originals, a company of nearly 30 employees, to take two specific actions; first, they must not discriminate against or deny services to individuals based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Secondly, they must attend diversity training within the next year. Though it is not clear exactly how many of the company’s 30 employees would be required to attend, Campbell stated that sending the company’s owner may be sufficient.
Campbell noted that Hands on Originals has both served and employed gays and lesbians in the past, but draws the line at messages presented on their products. According to Campbell, the company has denied at least 13 other orders for the same reason, including one from a Christian organization that depicted a shirt design with blood on it.
While the Alliance Defending Freedom defends Adamson’s decision in refusing to print the t-shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, Raymond Sexton, the executive director of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, is taking a much different stance.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Sexton feels that Hands on Originals must make their goods and services available to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, if they intend on continuing to conduct business in Lexington. Sexton went on to state that if were this a case involving race, national origin, or religion, there would be no such debate regarding right or wrong.