Adamson wins legal battle after seven-year fight

Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Chris Woodward, Billy Davis (

Blaine AdamsonA state court has dismissed a lawsuit brought against a Christian business owner who refused to print pro-homosexual t-shirts. 

In its Oct. 31 ruling, the Kentucky Supreme Court tossed out the lawsuit against Blaine Adamson. He was sued by GLSO, a Lexington-based homosexual rights group that sought to punish him for refusing to print its “pride” t-shirts that promoted the annual Lexington Pride Festival.

The state court dismissed the lawsuit on a technicality: the legal plaintiff should be the person denied service by Adamson, not GLSO itself, The Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper, citing the court order, reported.

“Without a proper complainant,” wrote Justice Laurance VanMeter, “no determination can be made as to whether the ordinance was violated.”

'Freedom of Speech' sign held upCiting his religious beliefs, Adamson refused the t-shirt order and thus kicked off what would be a protracted legal fight after GLSO filed a complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Human Rights Commission. In 2014, that group predictably ruled the business owner had violated a nondiscrimination order but Adamson, with help from Alliance Defending Freedom, appealed his case to the Kentucky Appeals Court and won in 2017.

After the appeals court overruled the civil rights commission, it appealed to the state’s highest court which heard oral arguments in August.

"The Kentucky Supreme Court made it clear,” says ADF attorney Jim Campbell, “that this case never should have happened in the first place.”

Lexington Pride festival websiteJustice VanMeter wrote that the court’s dismissal is “no doubt disappointing to many” who are awaiting a judicial ruling on the issue of religious freedom and religious expression.

That issue did get some attention from the court, however, after Justice David Buckingham criticized the Human Rights Commission for going “beyond its charge of preventing discrimination in public accommodation” and instead attempted to compel Adamson to “engage in expression” that he disagreed with, the newspaper noted.

The state justice went on to observe that a government can enforce civil-rights laws to protect public accommodations but government, he concluded, should not force businesses to express certain kinds of speech that they finding objectionable.

To force Hands On to print the shirts is forcing the business to express a message, Buckingham wrote.

Campbell tells OneNewsNow the seven-year-old case is “over and done with” after reaching the Kentucky Supreme Court, though a spokesman for the Human Rights Commission told the newspaper the group will review the dismissal at its next meeting.

The newspaper story did not cite the person who attempted to place the t-shirt order and was denied service by Adamson. 


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