Members of the LGBT community, along with law firms and scholars, are giving some major support to a Christian business owner in Lexington, Kentucky, over his decision to decline a request to print T-shirts for a “Gay Pride” event.
The surprising backing announced Thursday comes in the wake of Blaine Adamson’s refusal to print customized T-shirts for a Gay Pride festival in 2012 because of his sincerely held Christian beliefs concerning homosexual behavior and the pro-LGBT message that would be conveyed on the proposed shirts, CBN News reports.
However, instead of merely turning the prospective client away, Adamson, who owns and operates the Hands On Originals printing company, referred the customer to another printer. In fact, the owner of the Christian printing company went out of his way by offering to personally connect the person trying to order the LGBT shirts with the other printer, who agreed to produce the requested T-shirts for the same amount that Adamson would have charged for the order.
Despite Adamson’s willingness to assist the customer, a complaint was filed against Hands on Originals by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization. In the lawsuit, the Human Rights Commission charged the Christian company with illegal discrimination for denying the would-be client service due to its owner’s religious beliefs concerning homosexuality.
Unexpected and welcomed support
Not agreeing with the uproar stirred by much of the LGBT community opposing Adamson’s refusal to print the Gay Pride shirts, a number of businesses—including BMP T-Shirts—that are owned by LGBT members have publicly declared their support to Adamson over his decision to exercise his free speech rights in the matter.
"No one should be forced to do something against what they believe in,” proclaimed Diane DiGerloromo, one of the lesbian owners of BMP T-Shirts. “If we were approached by an organization, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, I highly doubt we would be doing business with them, and we would be very angry if we were forced to print anti-gay T-shirts."
DiGeloromo insists that Adamson’s decision to decline service to a customer so that he does not show support for a cause with which he disagrees should not set the stage for a sexual orientation discrimination suit.
"This isn't a gay or straight issue,” the lesbian business owner asserted, according to CBN News. “This is a human issue."
Kathy Trautvertter, who co-owns BMP T-Shirts with DiGeloromo, agrees with her business partner that owners of companies should not be forced to compromise their beliefs when conducting their business. Trautvertter noted that she would do the same thing regarding her beliefs if the shoe were on the other foot, especially with the emotional investment she puts into her business.
"You put your blood and your sweat and your tears into your business [and] it's very personal,” Trautvertter expressed. “When I put myself in Mr. Adamson's shoes, I could see it from his side."
Christian legal support
Also coming to the defense of Adamson, several law firms and scholars decided to support the Christian business owner’s right to decline business to prospective clients on moral grounds, including The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (BFRL) and University of Virginia Professor of Law Douglas Laycock.
BFRL Deputy General Counsel Luke Goodrich points out that such disagreements over moral issues have existed for centuries and that parties on both sides of the issue should continue to agree to disagree over the topic, rather than force one’s opinion on the other through lawsuits.
"Americans disagree about sex and religion … [t]hat's nothing new,” Goodrich explained, according to CBN News. “But this case is about whether the government will allow people who disagree to live side-by-side in peace, or whether the government will instead pick one 'correct' moral view and force everyone to conform."
Goodrich contends that the issue of free speech over the matter has already been decided by the United States’ highest court and that compelling Americans to endorse beliefs they are against is simply unconstitutional.
"Fortunately, the Supreme Court has already resolved this question and held that the government can't force people to promote views they disagree with," Goodrich concluded.