Christian Printer Wins Victory for Conscience Rights
Acton Institute Powerblog

Christian Printer Wins Victory for Conscience Rights

handsonoriginalsBlaine Adamson is the owner of Hands On Originals, a printing company in Fayette County, Kentucky. Like almost every printer since Gutenberg, Mr. Adamson believed he had the right to decide what items his conscience would allow him to print and which he’d have to reject. Indeed, his company regularly declines to print expressive materials because of the message that they display.

When he was asked to print shirts promoting the Lexington Pride Festival, a gay pride event, Adamson politely declined and offered to recommend another printer who would do the work for the same price. (The group found another printer to do the work free of charge.) Adamson says he would be disobeying God if he printed materials that suggested people should take “pride” in immoral sexual activities.

You can probably predict what happened next.

A representative of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization filed suit against Mr. Adamson with the local “human rights commission.” Although Mr. Adamson has never refused to provide his services to homosexual customers and has hired at least six employees who identity as gay or lesbian, he was charged with discriminating against individuals because of their sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ruled that Adamson was guilty of discrimination and was required to print a message that offended his beliefs.

Fortunately, there are some government entities still left in the land that believe First Amendment protections still apply. Earlier today the Fayette Circuit Court reversed the commission’s decision. The court wrote in its decision:

In short, [Hands On Originals]’s declination to print the shirts was based upon the message of GLSO and the Pride Festival and not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members. In point of fact, there is nothing in the record before the Commission that the sexual orientation of any individual that had contact with HOO was ever divulged or played any part in this case.

“The government can’t force citizens to surrender free-speech rights or religious freedom in order to run a small business, and this decision affirms that,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jim Campbell, who defended Adamson. “The court rightly recognized that the law protects Blaine’s decision not to print shirts with messages that conflict with his beliefs, and that no sufficient reason exists for the government to coerce Blaine to act against his conscience in this way.”

“What makes America unique is our freedom to peacefully live out our beliefs. The Constitution protects that freedom,” added co-counsel Beauman with Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, of Lexington. “You’re not free if your beliefs are confined to your mind.”

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).