A Lexington, KY, human rights commission ordered the employees of a local apparel company, Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters, to undergo “diversity training” after they refused to print t-shirts celebrating a “gay Pride” festival.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Hands On Originals discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington when it refused to print the group’s Lexington Pride Festival T-shirts in 2012, according to a hearing officer in the case.
Greg Munson issued his decision Monday. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission released it Tuesday morning.
“The evidence of record shows that the respondent discriminated against GLSO [Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington] 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.”
Hands On Originals argued that their objection wasn’t rooted in the sexual orientation of the customers, and even gave the group the name of another local vendor who would complete the order at the same price Hands On Originals would have charged.
The Herald-Leader reported:
Hands On Originals contended that it declined the T-shirt order because it is a Christian company and disagreed with the message of the shirt. The shirt was a stylized numeral 5 on the front. On the back was “Lexington Pride Festival” and a list of sponsors of the gay pride event.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona group defending Hands On Originals, released a statement announcing its disappointment with the ruling, which it said would also require printers to do business with controversial groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its extreme ideologies, especially against gay people.
“No one should be forced by the government — or by another citizen — to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the hearing examiner on behalf of Hands On Originals.
“Blaine (Adamson, of Hands On Originals) 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.”
Local attorney Bryan Beauman, who served as co-counsel on behalf of Hands On Originals agreed, and suggested an example where the tables may be turned.
“No one wants to live in that kind of America — a place where people who identify as homosexual are forced to promote the Westboro Baptists and where printers with sincere religious convictions are forced to promote the message of the GLSO,” he said in a statement. “In America, we don’t force people to express messages that are contrary to their convictions.”
As for myself, I keep wondering what would behoove a gay and lesbian pride organization to place an order with a company called “Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters” if not to initiate a lawsuit.
Watch the following video depicting the company’s position.