The Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday heard arguments from a print shop owner who refused to make a T-shirt for an LGBT pride celebration, citing his First Amendment rights and saying he should not be forced to produce messages that go against his religious beliefs.
Blaine Adamson, who owns Hands-On Originals in Lexington, Ky., declined to make the shirts in honor of Lexington’s 2012 Gay Pride Festival, The Associated Press reported. The shirts had “Lexington Pride Festival” around a number five, marking the celebration’s fifth year.
Lexington’s Human Rights Commission argued that, by refusing to print the T-shirts ordered by Lexington's Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, Adamson violated the city’s fairness ordinance to protect LGBT people, which was passed in 1999.
An attorney for Adamson argued in front of the state’s Supreme Court on Friday that the First Amendment to the Constitution protects the print shop owner from having to print a message that he objects to.
Adamson said after the hearing that the shirt that the organization ordered "goes against my conscience."
"I will work with any person, no matter who they are and no matter what their belief systems are," Adamson said, according to the AP. "But when I'm presented with a message that conflicts with my faith, that's just something I cannot print, that's the line for me."
Edward Dove, an attorney for the commission, told the court Friday that “the purpose of the law is to remove the stigma of discrimination."
The commission ordered Adamson to print the shirts in 2012 and attend diversity training. The printer appealed the decision and won in circuit court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
In 2017, the appeals court ruled that Adamson’s business was subject to the city’s fairness ordinance, but the ordinance does not prohibit a business “from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship."
The state’s Supreme Court will issue a ruling at a later date.
Ray Sexton, the executive director of Lexington’s Human Rights Commission, said the court will make a “critical decision” and warned that a ruling in favor of Adamson could allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.
"Can we use religion to legally discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity?" Sexton asked, according to the AP.