Kentucky … again! Supreme Court hears homophobe’s T-shirt case.

Kentucky … again! Supreme Court hears homophobe’s T-shirt case. August 25, 2019
Image via YouTube/Alliance Defending Freedom

COINCIDING with two court rulings on Friday concerning Kentucky’s Kim Davis was the case of Blaine Adamson, above, a devout Christian who claims he’s being persecuted for refusing to print gay pride T-shirts.

On Friday, the Kentucky Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case of Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters in Lexington. Adamson told the public outside the court chamber:

For the last seven years, the government has tried to punish me for declining to print a message that violated my conscience. So far, the lower courts have upheld my freedom as a creative professional, and I’m hoping the Kentucky Supreme Court will uphold that freedom as well.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with Adamson in 2017, but the ruling was challenged by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. Opposing Adamson, and representing the Commission, attorney Edward Dove said that Hands On Originals “practices censorship” according to Campbell’s own admission.

That’s why we have a public accommodation ordinance to protect against people enduring discrimination as they seek to enjoy goods. They can do anything they want in the name of religion and censor any message they don’t like, which would affect the free speech argument in the country.

Said attorney Jim Campbell of the anti-gay hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Adamson:

Blaine serves everyone; he just doesn’t print all messages. In fact, Blaine has printed materials for a lesbian musician who performed at Lexington’s 2012 Pride Festival. It’s all about the message that Blaine is asked to print; he’s not concerned with the person who requests it. Upholding Blaine’s rights protects freedom of speech for everyone. 

That’s why he has received public support from lesbians who own a print shop in New Jersey and don’t want the government to force them to print messages they disagree with.

Adamson has previously stressed that he happily serves and employs homosexuals; it’s the content of certain designs that’s at issue.

We’ve had to turn down several jobs because of whatever the message may have been, even from customers whom we’ve worked with for years. When they present a message that conflicts with my convictions, it’s not something that I can print – that’s the line for me.

Calvin Freiburger, reporting for the far-right LifeSiteNews, wrote:

Over the past several years, LGBT activists have taken numerous Christian business owners across the country, from photographers to florists, to court in hopes of forcing them to create works celebrating homosexuality or participate in same-sex ‘wedding’ ceremonies. The U.S. Supreme Court handed Colorado baker Jack Phillips a victory last year when it sided with him against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but similar lawsuits continue because the high court’s narrow ruling was about the anti-religious animus of state officials, and didn’t render a verdict on the core religious-liberty issues.

Image via YouTube

Phillips, above, is not yet out of the woods. Alliance Defending Freedom reports that he faces a third legal challenge. And he needs thoughts, prayers … and money.

No American should be bullied or banished from the marketplace simply for living and working consistently with their faith. But this new lawsuit threatens to do just that.

Opponents of religious freedom want to strip away our freedom to live and work consistently with our deeply held beliefs. And they’re going to extreme lengths to punish those – like Jack – who are willing to stand for their faith.

Praise God that Jack refused to give up his freedom without a fight. He knows it’s not just his own religious freedom on the line – it’s yours too.

Thankfully, God continues to provide us with the resources we need to fight back. Through God’s blessing and your prayers and support, we are winning case after case across the nation, even at the highest court in the land.

God has rewarded Jack’s courage and your generosity with two important victories. And now, as he faces yet another challenge, it is our prayer that God will use your gift today to protect religious freedom for Jack and other people of faith who are fighting important battles across the country. God is the source of our hope. And when we stand together to defend religious freedom today, we can be victorious.

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  • orion dumptee

    hmmm,as Jimmy Durante used to say….EVERYBODYS’ tryin to get into the act’

  • WallofSleep

    When are these xtians gonna learn that the ADF is a toxic failure?

  • Illithid

    I might side with the printer on this one. Should the law compel speech? This isn’t an off-the-shelf item, but a message he would have to create. I compare the hypothetical Jewish or Black or gay printer asked to make a pro-KKK shirt, and ask myself if they should legally be able to refuse. I want to say “yes”. The fact that I disagree strongly with this man’s views should be irrelevant.

  • Amused To Death

    I agree. If he does indeed do business in general with LGBT people then this might be going too far.

  • When you open a business offering a product or service to the public, you are required to provide said product or service to ALL customers, whether or not you agree with them. Don’t like it, don’t open a business.

  • Broga

    ” thoughts, prayers … and money.”

    Just the prayers, just the prayers – no need for anything else.

    I don’t think he should be forced any more than I should be forced to print a T shirt praising Christianity.

  • barriejohn

    Christian love in action again.

  • epeeist

    When you open a business offering a product or service to the public, you are required to provide said product or service to ALL customers

    Yes and no, I live in an area with a high Muslim population. One can’t go into a Muslim butcher’s and demand pork or non-Halal meat.

    The difference here is that the Muslim butcher’s shops are up front with what they sell while this print shop is serving the general public. Change his business to something like the SPCK bookshops here in the UK and it wouldn’t be a problem.

  • It’s a no-brainer that any self-professed “free thinker” actually capable of thnking should side with the printer.

  • barriejohn

    That’s a strange attitude!

  • barriejohn

    The issue here is discrimination, plain and simple.

  • Broga


    If they are so confident about their prayers being answered why do they need anything else?

    As for forcing him to print what he doesn’t want on a T shirt that just seems a step too far for me.

  • Pam

    This may be a hard case, but the KKK comparison is not very hellpful. It has a strong implication that the person refusing service cannot help who they are and have been victimized because of who they are by the person requesting the service. This is actually a common narrative in religious circles, that LGBT persons somehow damage religious people by our very existence and that the religious person must defend their soul (and eveyone else’s) from that evil.

    In addition, the t-shirt printer is not “creating a message”, he is printing a message. If he can refuse to do that, then a photocopy shop can refuse to run off flyers based on their religious beliefs. Photocopy shops solve this dilemma by having self-serve machines, but this woudl not work in a t-shirt printing shop.

  • Pam

    Do you think that a photocopy shop should be able to refuse to run off copies of a flyer for an event with which they disagree? Could this disagreement be on any grounds (political or esthetic, say) or only as a result of religious conviction?

    This is where this case is fuzzier than others. The business is not refusing to provide service to some people; it is refusing to provide a product with a message that it disagrees with, but it is refusing to provide it to anyone.

    I think most people will agree that there is a continuum. At one end is the question of whether an artist or writer can portay a character any way they want, not matter how inaccurate or unflattering the portrayal. Few people would claim that it should be illegal for a writer to descibe an LGBT person in a negative way.

    At the other end of the continuum is the “We don’t serve your kind here” attitude that can still be found some places. Most (though not all) people would agree that if you provide goods or services to the public, you have to provide them to all the public.

    This case falls in the middle, where the business owner feels like they are being forced to promote an idea with which they disagree.

  • Etranger

    These are tricky cases. Why should this tee shirt maker have to make tee shirts that display any and all messages? So every tee shirt seller has to print a pro-confederacy/pro-white teeshirt? Nothing commands businesses to do that.

  • Right, but the muslim butcher still has to serve ALL customers equally. Nobody said he had to offer a specific product (pork).

  • epeeist

    I’ll respond to this rather than the ones by @Acadia606:disqus or @barriejohn:disqus since they cover similar ground.

    Agreed that unless the print shop owner must offer his services to all customers equally and not discriminate in any way.

  • Lark62

    No. The difference is Halal Meat is the PRODUCT not the customer.

    The business can select its PRODUCT, but it cannot refuse to sell that product to Jews or Christians.

    A business gets to choose its products, not its customers.

  • UnmeritedGrace

    Where I think the printer’s case might be weak is on whether printing the group’s logo actually sends an explicit “message” of the kind he’s saying he objects to. It’s not a group that takes extreme political positions as its core mission; it’s more of a supportive organization for LGBT people, especially young people. And I read some of the printer’s testimony, and it was a bit muddled as to exactly what the “message” was that he found offensive. If it were a LGBT-oriented entity that advocated closing down anti-gay churches and jailing people who expressed any opposition to homosexuality, etc, I think it’d be credible if he said, “It’s not anyone’s sexual orientation that’s the problem, it’s the things this particular group stands for.”

    But I do disagree that in printing a message on a custom product the business owner isn’t implicated. The “gay wedding cake” cases that went against the bakers made a distinction between providing a “neutral” cake and one with a design with a definite “message” he found objectionable. Justice Ginsburg made that same distinction in her Masterpiece dissent. I have a friend who owns a cake shop, and if put an anti-LGBT design on a cake (she wouldn’t), I know I’d hold her responsible; I’d ask, “Why would YOU say something like that?” So it has to go the other way too; if we let businesses refuse an order with that kind of message, we have to let them refuse the opposite message.

  • Sharad Majumdar

    Okay people, hear me out. You cannot force somebody to print rainbow shirts. This isn’t about him being a homophobe. It’s about him have the artistic freedom to create (or not create) what he wants. I’m atheist myself (have been following this blog for years), but in this case (and the “gay wedding cake” case) I actually support the defendant.

  • Douglas_Einer

    Don’t open a ‘Public’ Business, if he had a ‘Private Business’
    (church members only-?) Then it’d be alright at that point-? (I’m curious)

  • If it were a private club, yes, he’d probably be okay.

  • Um, this applies to ALL business owners.

    If it’s open to the public, it must serve ALL of the public. Period.

  • By refusing the pro-gay message, they ARE refusing service to a minority demographic.

  • Actually… the law DOES command businesses to do that. If you print custom tee shirts, you are required to serve ALL CUSTOMERS EQUALLY. Yes, even the ones you disagree with.

  • Pam

    No, not all gays are pro-gay and many straight people are very pro-gay. This doofus is refusing the message not the customer, assuming he would also refuse to print these particular shirts for a straight customer. or for an organization like PFLAG that is for allies.

    I haven’t seen an image of the shirt in question, was it made public?

  • Etranger

    I don’t think the law does say that. For instance, the Azúcar bakery case in Denver did not find against the baker for not putting an anti gay bible quote on a cake. I believe the law guarantees service to all customers. But you don’t hav to take all custom requests. I am a tax preparer. I do not have to do the taxes of everyone who comes through the door.

  • And you’d be wrong.

  • Pam

    I tend to support the defendant too, though I am a queer atheist, but printing a t-shirt does not need “artistic freedom”. It is a mechanical process like making a photcopy.

    If he was desiging a t-shirt, yes I would buy the artistic freedom argument.

    The defendant does not want to use his voice to amplify a message with which he does not agree. Whether or not he can legally do that is a matter for the lawyers. The seeming fact that he is a homophobic twit is not relevant.

  • Etranger

    I think there is some distinctions to be made between the bakery case and the tee shirt case. In Masterpiece, the baker did not refuse a cake design. He refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. In the Tee-shirt case, they refused to put a message on the shirt. The baker could have refused to do a certain design or put a message on the cake and would not have run afoul of the Colorado anti-discrimination law.

  • persephone

    Some believe. Most of them know they have to sell it.