Lawyer compares Pride to violence and drugs to justify t-shirt printer’s refusal for service

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Attorneys for a t-shirt printing company which refused to print Pride t-shirts back in 2012, have argued that it does not constitute discrimination.

A lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, Jim Campbell, argued that the owners of Hands on Originals in Lexington, Kentucky, objected to printing the 2012 Lextington Pride Festival t-shirt, but that they do not discriminate against gay people.

He compared printing Pride t-shirts to printing messages about illegal drug use, porn or violence.

He told the Kentucky Court of Appeals: “The record shows that they have declined over the years to promote messages that promote illegal drug use or strip clubs or pornographic movies or violent messages.”

“Hands on Originals declined to print the shirts in question because of the messages on them, not the sexual orientation of the individuals who asked for them.”

But a lawyer for the Human Rights Commission in Lexington argued that it is not possible to separate the message on the t-shirt from the discrimination.

Ed Dove said: “At what point does this message stop?… You can’t separate the message from the discrimination. That’s a red herring.”

The Human Rights Commission in Lexington, Kentucky back in 2012 sided with organisers of a Pride event, who were refused service by the Christian t-shirt printing company, because of its religious beliefs.

Hands On Originals, a t-shirt printing company, refused to print apparel for the Gay and Lesbian Services Organisation, ahead of the city’s parade.

The managing owner of Hands On, Blaine Adamson, had said he refused to complete the order from the GLSO because it is a Christian company, and doing so would have gone against his beliefs, reported He said:  “Due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of the company to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.”

This ruling by the Human Rights Commission could lead to a public hearing on the issue, which would decide whether or not the company violated any law by refusing the order.

Aaron Barker, a spokesperson for the GLSO released a statement following the 2012 decision: “We’re not seeking fines or monetary damages or anything else,” he said. “In some sense, I feel like we’ve gotten what we were looking for since the Human Rights Commission has agreed with us.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is the Christian group of attorneys representing Hands On Originals, and aims to focus on “religious freedom”. Attorney Jim Campbell said in a statement: “Americans in the marketplace should not be subject to legal attacks simply for abiding by their beliefs,”

“The Constitution prohibits the government from forcing business owners to promote messages they disagree with … The process will continue, and Alliance Defending Freedom will have the opportunity to provide a robust defense of our client’s fundamental freedoms protected under the US Constitution.”