What's at stake
The freedom to operate a business according to your deeply held beliefs without the fear of being punished by the government.
The basic human right not to endorse a view with which you disagree.
Blaine Adamson and his printing business, Hands On Originals, came under attack when they declined to create t-shirts for the pride festival hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (“GLSO”). Helping to spread a message that promotes sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman would violate Blaine’s Christian beliefs. So he could not in good conscience produce t-shirts for the GLSO’s event. Blaine nevertheless offered to connect the GLSO to another printer who would create the shirts for the same price that he would have charged. In response, however, the GLSO’s president filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission alleging sexual orientation discrimination.
Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies came to Blaine’s and Hands On Originals’ defense. They explained to the human rights commission that declining to produce t-shirts because they display a disagreeable message is not the same as declining an order based on the identity of the person who orders them.
Because the government cannot force citizens to promote a message they do not believe in, Alliance Defending Freedom asked the human rights commission to dismiss the complaint. Unfortunately, the commission refused to do so and, instead, found Blaine guilty of illegal discrimination and ordered him to print shirts with messages that conflict with his religious beliefs.
Alliance Defending Freedom appealed that order to a Kentucky circuit court. In April 2015, that court reversed the human rights commission’s order and affirmed Blaine’s and his company’s right to decline to print messages that conflict with their religious beliefs.
In May 2017, the Kentucky Court of Appeals also ruled that Blaine is free to decline orders that would require him to print messages that conflict with his religious beliefs.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission appealed this decision to the Kentucky Supreme Court. On October 31, 2019, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in favor of Blaine, unanimously affirming that the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization did not have a legal right to sue Blaine or his business, Hands On Originals, for declining to print a message that violates his religious beliefs.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom and its allies defended Blaine Adamson and his printing company, Hands On Originals.