Owning a business can be a risky job for Christians these days. Just ask Blaine Adamson. Like a lot of believers, the head of Hands On Originals, a screen-printing company, found out that he could lose a lot more than his shirts for his faith!
When the Kentucky businessman was approached about printing rainbow shirts for Lexington's gay pride festival in 2012, he politely declined. As a Christian, he felt that using his shop to promote a message that contradicted his faith was a non-starter. Unfortunately, Adamson paid for his principles -- dearly. Now, after more than a half-decade in court, Blaine and his family finally got the vindication they'd been waiting for. Turns out, when the Constitution protects the freedom of the press, t-shirt presses are included!
Seven years, two lower court rulings, and one trip to the Kentucky Supreme Court later, the Adamsons won the battle to exercise what the Constitution already guarantees them: religious freedom. Although the judges ultimately decided the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization didn't have the standing to sue, Justice David Buckingham took the opportunity to blast the state's Human Rights Commission in light of the Masterpiece Cakes ruling. He accused them of going "beyond its charge of preventing discrimination in public accommodation and instead attempted to compel Hands On to engage in expression with which it disagreed." What's more, he argued, Blaine Adamson has never discriminated on the basis of anything.
"The record discloses three essential facts," Buckingham wrote. "First, Hands On has an established practice of declining orders because of what Hands On perceives to be their morally-objectionable messages," including sexually explicit or violent messages. "Second, Hands On accepted and completed an order from a lesbian singer who performed at the 2012 Pride Festival. Third, at no time did Hands On inquire or know the sexual orientation or gender identity of the persons with whom it dealt with on behalf of GLSO. These facts indicate that Hands On was in good faith objecting to the message it was being asked to disseminate."
Monday, on "Washington Watch," one of the Adamsons' attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, Jim Campbell, joined us to talk about this latest string of First Amendment victories. "What we've emphasized all throughout this case is that Blaine Adamson is willing to serve everyone. What he can't do is create messages that violate his faith. And it doesn't matter who asks for those messages. He can't print them for anyone." And that's not just to protect Blaine, Jim pointed out. It's to protect anyone -- including people on the other side -- from being coerced into either ignoring their values or promoting someone else's against their will.
The law is on the Christians' side -- and increasingly, the courts are too. We salute ADF and Blaine for standing their ground and making America a safe place for anyone to exercise their beliefs -- in the marketplace or out.