Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a
Republican, has sided with a printing company that refused to print
t-shirts for an LGBT group.
Bevin has submitted an amicus
brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court in support of Hands On Originals,
the Lexington printing company that in 2012 refused to print t-shirts
for Lexington's Pride Festival, the Lexington
Herald-Leader reported. Citing his Christian beliefs,
co-owner Blaine Adamson refused the order from Lexington's Pride
Community Services Organization (PCSO), which organizes the annual
PCSO filed a complaint with the
Lexington Human Rights Commission, which ruled that Hands On
Originals had violated a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination
based on sexual orientation. Adamson was ordered to get diversity
training. But a state judge overturned the ruling and an appeals
court affirmed the decision. The commission appealed the ruling to
the state's highest court.
Bevin's lawyers argue that requiring
Hands On Originals' owners to print t-shirts “promoting
homosexuality” would violate the Kentucky Constitution's religious
freedom and freedom of conscience guarantees.
“For over two centuries, the
Commonwealth of Kentucky has protected its citizens’ right to act
according to their conscience,” said Steve Pitt, the governor's
general counsel. “This important case, which has attracted
national attention, tests whether Kentucky’s history of
safeguarding freedom of conscience will continue or be curtailed.
Requiring Hands-On’s owners to engage in speech with which they
disagree is a violation of their freedom of conscience, and we are
hopeful that the Kentucky Supreme Court will reaffirm this bedrock of
Kentucky’s constitutional charter.”
Hands On Originals' owners argue that
they object to the message that there is “pride in being gay,”
though the shirt they refused to print only says “Lexington Pride
Festival” in rainbow colors.