A Christian-owned printing company in the US has been told that its refusal to print t-shirts promoting a gay pride event amounted to “unlawful discrimination”.
The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) asked Hands On Originals, a Christian-run business, to print t-shirts for its Pride Festival in 2012.
Blaine Adamson of Hands On Originals, which is based in the Lexington-Fayette area of Kentucky, declined the order because he did not want to promote the message of the event.
But last week an administrative law judge Greg Munson concluded that the Christian printer had acted unlawfully by refusing the order.
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission will now decide whether to adopt or modify Munson’s recommended ruling.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is defending Hands On Originals, expressed disappointment with the ruling and warned that the decision would require all printers in the Lexington area to print messages even if they conflict with their conscience.
“No one should be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree”, said ADF Senior lawyer Jim Campbell.
“Blaine declined the request to print the shirts not because of any characteristic of the people who asked for them, but because of the message that the shirts would communicate.”
Bryan Beauman, part of Hands On Originals’ legal team, said: “In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions.”
Munson’s recommended ruling, released by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission last week, stated: “The evidence of record shows that the Respondent discriminated against the GLSO because of its members’ actual or imputed sexual orientation by refusing to print and sell to them the official shirts for the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival.”
Earlier this year in Northern Ireland, a Christian-run bakery was threatened with legal action after it declined to produce a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.
The McArthur family, who own Ashers Baking Company in the Belfast area, said they could not fulfil the order because it conflicts with their Christian beliefs about marriage being between a man and a woman.
The Christian Institute is supporting the bakery, and says the case proves the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly held beliefs.