A Kentucky appellate court on Friday ruled that the Christian owner of a printing shop in Lexington had the right to refuse to make T-shirts promoting a local gay pride festival.
The dispute represents the latest court fight testing the limits of antidiscrimination protections for gays and lesbians following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
The cases have led to a number of state court rulings against Christian-owned businesses that refused to bake cakes, design floral arrangements or take portrait photographs for same-sex weddings.
The ruling by the Kentucky Court of Appeals favored the business owner. A crucial difference in this case was the expressive nature of the service denied: literally words on a shirt.
In a split vote, a three-judge panel concluded that the store, Hands on Originals, couldn’t be forced to print a message with which the owner disagreed.
The dispute started in 2012 when Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in Kentucky asked Hands on Originals to make T-shirts with the name and logo of a pride festival.