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Kentucky Appeals Court Rules Refusal To Print Gay Pride Shirts Is Not Discrimination

A divided 3-1 Kentucky appeals court panel ruled Friday that a Lexington business did not discriminate against an organization by refusing to print T-shirts for a gay rights festival.

Chief Judge Joy Kramer wrote in her opinion that the city’s ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation does not prohibit the owners of Hands On Originals from “engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.” Kramer said the business objected to the message of gay pride, not anyone’s sexual orientation.

“Thus, although the menu of services HOO provides to the public is accordingly limited, and censors certain points of view, it is the same limited menu HOO offers to every customer and is not, therefore, prohibited by the fairness ordinance,” the ruling states.

Judge Jeff Taylor dissented, saying he thought the business did discriminate against the organization since its decision was “based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.”

He also said creating the rainbow-themed shirts would not have really violated Mr. Adamson’s religious beliefs.

“For those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s, a rainbow was a symbol of peace; others view rainbows as symbolic of love, life, hope, promise, or even transformation,” Judge Taylor wrote. “Even the Bible provides that a rainbow is a sign from God.”

Taylor also argued the majority opinion takes the teeth out of the ordinance by making it effective only to the extent that gays and lesbians do not publicly display their sexual orientation.

Blaine Adamson , owner of Hands On Originals told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he would not object to printing shirts for gays or lesbians as long as the message didn’t promote homosexuality.

“I don’t leave my faith at the door when I walk into my business,” Adamson said. “In my case, fortunately, the legal system worked.”

It’s now up to the Human Rights Commission to decide whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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