By Victor Ochieng
A three-judge bench sitting at Kentucky’s court of appeal has ruled in favor of a Christian company that declined to produce T-Shirts for a gay pride event. The ruling upheld an earlier ruling by Fayette Circuit Court.
Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled Friday that Hands On Originals couldn’t be compelled to produce T-Shirts for the gay event, as long as the owner felt that doing so is against his moral standing. An LGBT group and the Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission had gone to court seeking an order asking HOO to produce the T-Shirts they’d requested for.
“Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits HOO, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship,” read the panel’s decision.
“Thus, although the menu of services HOO provides to the public is accordingly limited, and censors certain points of view, it is the same limited menu HOO offers to every customer and is not, therefore, prohibited by the fairness ordinance.”
The decision went 2-1, with Judge Jeff Taylor dissenting the decision, saying HOO had actually gone against the local ordinance and had as a result acted in a biased manner against homos*xuals.
“The facts in this case clearly establish that HOO’s conduct, the refusal to print the t-shirts, was based upon gays and lesbians promoting a gay pride festival in Lexington, which violated the Fairness Ordinance,” argued Taylor.
The judge further noted that HOO could’ve been justified only if the information they were asked to print on the T-Shirts was defamatory or obscene in nature. But as it were, the Christian company had no reasonable grounds to decline to make the T-Shirts, argued the judge.
“Finally, it is important to note that the speech that HOO sought to censor was not obscene or defamatory. There was nothing obnoxious, inflammatory, false, or even pornographic that GLSO wanted to place on their t-shirts which would justify restricting their speech under the First Amendment.”
The case stemmed from a 2012 business engagement in which Gay and Lesbian Services Organization approached HOO and asked them to produce T-Shirts for their gay pride event that was to be held in Lexington.
In declining the request, HOO pointed out that their religious belief didn’t allow them to make T-Shirts for the event, arguing that doing so would mean supporting homos*xuality.
The LGBT group then decided to seek court redress only to end up losing the case.