A t-shirt company in Lexington, Kentucky is under investigation by the city’s Human Rights Commission after refusing to print shirts to a local gay rights organization.
Fox News is reporting that Blaine Adamson, managing owner of the t-shirt company named “Hands on Originals,” became the target of gay activists when he told representatives of the the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) that he could not print shirts for the city’s Pride Festival because the event runs contrary to his religious beliefs. Adamson offered to find another company who would agree to print the shirts at the same price, but this wasn’t good enough for GLSO who filed a complaint against him with Lexington’s Human Rights Commission.
“Our feeling on that is, separate but equal wasn’t okay during the civil rights movement and it’s not okay now,” said Aaron Baker, board president of GLSO.
Almost immediately, “Hands on Originals” came under fierce attack from activists, such as creating a Facebook page dedicated to promoting a boycott of the business. Another group is trying to buy the company’s mortgage for the purpose of getting them evicted. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the GLSO coaxed some 60 homosexual activists to picket in front of the business on March 30 to express their anger and encourage people to stop doing business with the company. The negative publicity has caused the Fayette County public school system to put a temporary hold on buying t-shirts from the company until the issue is resolved and the University of Kentucky is also reviewing its future business with the t-shirt maker.
Lexington’s openly gay mayor has also been vocal in his attacks on the business, telling the Leader that “People don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.”
“I’m against discrimination, period,” Gray said in a statement released to television station WKYT. “It’s bad for business and bad for the city. I support the Human Rights Commission in a full and thorough investigation.”
Adamson defended himself and his company in an op-ed that appeared in the Leader, saying that he is not guilty of discrimination.
“I decided to pass on the opportunity because, as a Christian owner, I cannot in good conscience endorse groups or events that run counter to my convictions,” Adamson wrote in the op-ed.
Adamson wrote that he “does not expect, or even ask, people to agree with my view.”
“All I ask for people is to respect my right as an owner to not produce a product that is contrary to my principles,” he wrote.
Adamson called on people to stand up for the rights of small business owners not “to be forced into producing a product with a message that conflicts with their beliefs and consciences.”
“Over the past 20 years, we have declined to produce several other products with different messages than the one at issue here because we disapproved of whatever message it was, and it never had anything to do with discrimination,” he wrote. “People reading this may disagree with my view on the current issue, but I hope they will join us in supporting our right to decline an order that promotes a view so contrary to our personal beliefs.”
“Hands on Originals”, a privately owned company, is now being accused of violating Lexington’s Fairness Act – which protects people and organizations from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The attacks are out of line, said Jim Campbell, an attorney with Alliance Defense Fund who is representing the company.
“No business owner should be forced to violate his conscience simply because someone demands it,” he said. “The Constitution absolutely supports the rights of business owners to decline a request to support a message that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.”
Adamson has definitely found some powerful supporters. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, condemned the attacks and said Adamson has as much freedom to reject homosexuality as his customers do to endorse it.
“The Left still insists that personal morality take a backseat to its radical agenda,” Perkins said. “Whether it’s a t-shirt company, wedding photographer, or the church, homosexuals will not be satisfied until they compel us to either spread their perversion or promote it.”
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly has warned of the danger of labeling an individual, group, or business as hateful and intolerant just because “they think differently about some issues than you do. Believing what the Bible says about human sexuality is a personal conviction, not an act of persecution.”
Writing for New American, Dave Bohon points out that activists just don’t think that way.
” . . . (H)omosexual activists have made it clear that their intent is to damage and destroy those who insist on taking a firm stand against efforts to normalize homosexual behavior and force it upon the culture at large.”
The investigation into the charges against “Hands on Originals” is expected to take up to six months.
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