Hands On Originals Attorney Argues T-Shirt Maker Exercised Free Speech

Dec 14, 2016

An attorney representing Lexington t-shirt maker Hands On Originals told Kentucky Court of Appeals judges Tuesday that his client did not violate the city’s fairness ordinance by refusing to print shirts for a 2012 gay pride festival.

The Lexington Pride Festival design that was turned down by Hands On Originals.
Credit Lexington Pride Fest

The Herald-Leader reports Jim Campbell with the Alliance Defending Freedom argued before the three-member panel that Hands On owner Blaine Adamson objected to the shirt’s message – and did not turn down the request because of the customers’ sexual orientation. Couching the question as a free speech issue, Campbell pointed to other designs the business has declined, including some depicting illegal drugs.

But lawyers with the city’s human rights commission argued the shirt’s message is connected to a protected class of citizens and a ruling in favor of Hands On could open the door to more discrimination by other businesses.

Lexington’s Human Rights Commission found that Adamson failed to comply the fairness ordinance in 2014, but that decision was overturned in Fayette Circuit Court the following year.