Hand on Originals refused to make gay-pride festival shirts due to their religious beliefs.The Kentucky Supreme Court is all set to hear a case that involves a Lexington company refusing to print a T-shirt for the city’s yearly gay-pride festival.
The case began five years ago when the Lexington company, Hands on Originals, outright refused to print a T-shirt for the Lexington Gay and Lesbian Services organization. The owner of the company said he didn’t approve of “pride in being gay” due to religious objections.
The Lexington Human Rights Commission said Hands on Originals had violated Lexington’s fairness ordinance. They have said Lexington’s fair ordinance doesn’t allow businesses to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. However, the courts have sided with Hands on Originals so far.
The appeals court has ruled the fairness ordinance can not overrule the company’s right to free speech. The Fayette County Circuit Court Judge James Ishmael issued a reversal of the commission’s decision in 2015 by saying there was no violation.
The case depends on whether the company didn’t provide a service based on their beliefs or the sexual orientation of a customer. Attorneys have said since the service the company provides is message promotion, the issue is a freedom of speech issue.
On the other hand, the Human Rights commission said since the company sells services or goods to the public, a public accommodation of the ordinance states that goods or services cannot be denied based on gender, race, national origin, and various other factors. The director of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, Ray Sexton, says the case isn’t about the message on the shirt. If it were, the company would have denied the service from the beginning. Sexton said the company denied the service only after being told who the shirt was for.
The senior attorney representing Hands on Originals, Jim Campbell, said the company does not print certain messages but serves everyone. Campbell said the company shouldn’t be forced to print a shirt that goes against their beliefs.