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Supreme Court of the United States

Kentucky Print Shop Owner Fights Compelled Speech and Reeducation Order

By Marissa Mayer posted on:
October 17, 2017

As the owner of the printing shop Hands On Originals in Lexington, Kentucky, Blaine Adamson is used to receiving all kinds of print requests. He regularly makes judgment calls about where the line is in terms of messages that his shop will express or promote to remain consistent with his religious convictions. He's even gone so far as to make arrangements with other local printers to ensure that when he needs to decline a request that conflicts with his Christian faith, he can refer these customers to another shop that will match his price.

That's why, when Blaine received a request from the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) to print t-shirts promoting the group’s Pride Festival, Blaine was honest about being unable to support the message. As a Christian, he believes that sexual relationships and sexual activity is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.

Instead, he offered to refer the group to another printer who would match his price. But GLSO took offense. Despite getting their t-shirts printed for free at another shop, they pursued a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission accusing Hands On Originals of discrimination.

If this story sounds familiar, it's probably because stories like Blaine's are becoming more and more common. Here's how they tend to go:

  1. Business owner happily serves and/or employs people who identify as homosexual
  2. Business owner declines a request that would force him or her  to promote or convey messages about sexuality or marriage that conflict with his or her religious convictions
  3. Someone sues the business owner, either the customer or the government, for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
  4. Customer has no problem obtaining the requested goods or services from a different business, oftentimes free of charge

But as outrageous as these lawsuits appear, what's even more outrageous is that states continue to prioritize sexual freedom over the precious freedoms granted by the First Amendment.

In a troubling ruling, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission found that Blaine had discriminated against the GLSO and ordered that he not only print promotional materials that express messages he does not want to promote, but that he attend a government-run reeducation program.

If the government can't compel United States citizens to pledge allegiance to the Flag, how can it compel a private business owner to use his work to express support for same-sex marriage and homosexual behavior?

“No one should be forced by the government to endorse or promote ideas that they disagree with," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell. "Blaine declined the request to print these particular shirts not because of any characteristic of the people who asked for them, but because of the message that the shirts would communicate.”

ADF appealed the order and a hearing is scheduled for March 13th before the Fayette Circuit Court.

There is no question that printing messages is a form of speech—even the hearing examiner correctly acknowledged that Hands On Originals acts as a speaker when it prints promotional items for customers. But instead of recognizing that compelling Blaine and his company to print certain messages is a violation of his free-speech rights, the Commission decided that no one forced Blaine to go into the printing business so therefore, they could not be compelling him to speak.  

In essence, the Commission's order sends the message that Blaine must print things he disagrees with or abandon the work he's passionate about and get a different job.

Take Action:

It is evident that governments throughout the country are going to extreme lengths to promote sexual freedom while ignoring our Constitutional freedoms. Please help spread the word about this case on social media, and keep Blaine and ADF attorneys in your prayers as they prepare for the hearing on March 13.


Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer

Senior Copywriter & Editor

Marissa Mayer is an Arizona native who fell in love with the written word at a young age.


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