A Kentucky T-shirt company discriminated against a gay pride organization when it refused to print shirts promoting the group’s upcoming event, a hearing officer in the human rights case ruled last week.
Greg Munson, the hearing officer from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, issued his ruling after a two-year investigation into the matter.
Blaine Adamson, owner of the company Hands On Originals, has maintained from the beginning that he refused to print the shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization’s upcoming Lexington Pride Festival because the message of the shirts conflicted with his Christian beliefs.
“The evidence of record shows that the respondent discriminated against 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,” read a portion of Munson’s decision printed in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
His ruling could mean the company will not be allowed to discriminate against other groups in the future and its employees will have to undergo sensitivity training. But first the full commission will have to vote on, and adopt, Munson’s recommendations.
Adamson’s attorney has said that depending on the full commission’s actions the fight could continue.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm from Arizona, defended Adamson through the two-year hearing process. Alliance attorney Jim Campbell told TheBlaze that once the commission votes he and Adamson will decide whether to appeal to the official ruling.
“Once we do get a final decision of the commission we would have an opportunity to appeal,” Campbell said. “We are very likely to appeal.”
Campbell accused the local commission of having “scattered, unclear rules” and that the preliminary ruling from Munson isn’t entirely clear. He declined to offer what precise steps he would take, saying those actions would be determined once the commission renders a decision official with a vote.
Campbell did say, however, that he felt the preliminary ruling was too broad as it could also force a company to do business with groups that spread messages of hate or intolerance.
"No one should be forced by the government — or by another citizen — to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” Campbell said. “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.”