The owner of “Hands On Originals,” a well-known t-shirt company in the region, declined to print the shirts for the city’s Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) because it would conflict with their Christian convictions.
The privately owned company is now accused of violating Lexington’s Fairness Act – which protects people and organizations from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
An attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund who is representing the T-shirt company says:
“No business owner should be forced to violate his conscience simply because someone demands it,” he said. “The Constitution absolutely supports the rights of business owners to decline a request to support a message that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.”
But the city says:
“Hands On Originals” will be “required by law to participate in the investigation.”
“We have subpoena power and have the backing of the law,” he said. “We are a law enforcement agency and people have to comply.”
Should the company be found guilty of discriminating against the homosexuals Sexton said they could be subjected to fines.
Yes, friends, a city has a “human rights commission” which is considered a “law enforcement agency” that can force compliance with a law that would do precisely what the ADF lawyer claims it shouldn’t have the power to do.
You’d think there’d be a solution that could be reached well before this is escalated to the use of government coercion, doesn’t it? That is if all the GLSO wanted to do was buy T-shirts.
And, a solution was offered:
GLSO wanted “Hands On Original” to print shirts for the city’s fifth annual Lexington Pride Festival. The store offered to find another company that would honor its price – but that wasn’t good enough for the GLSO.
“Our feeling on that is, separate but equal wasn’t okay during the civil rights movement and it’s not okay now,” Aaron Baker told the television station. Baker is board president of GLSO.
That’s right, it is agenda time. This isn’t about T-shirts at all. It’s about forcing their one-way version of tolerance on someone. The irony is that GLSO appears to have absolutely no tolerance for the principles of the owners of the T-shirt company.
Which set me to wondering. Here’s a hypothetical for you. What if the owner of the T-shirt company was gay? And what if Westboro Baptist Church placed an order for 10 dozen T-shirts which said “God hates faggots” on them? What if the T-shirt shop owner refused the order because of his principles?
I’d guess no. In fact, I’d guess precisely the opposite reaction.
The T-shirt company owner wrote an op-ed for the paper explaining his point of view:
“I decided to pass on the opportunity because, as a Christian owner, I cannot in good conscience endorse groups or events that run counter to my convictions,” Adamson wrote in the op-ed.
Adamson, who has been in business for more than 20 years, wrote that he “does not expect, or even ask, people to agree with my view.”
“All I ask for people is to respect my right as an owner to not produce a product that is contrary to my principles,” he wrote.
Adamson called on people to stand up for the rights of small business owners not “to be forced into producing a product with a message that conflicts with their beliefs and consciences.”
The reaction was anything but tolerant or understanding of a differing view:
“Hands On Originals” has faced a barrage of attacks since the accusations were made public. More than 2,000 people have joined a boycott movement on Facebook. Another group is trying to buy the company’s mortgage so they can be evicted.
The Fayette County public school system placed a temporary hold on buying t-shirts from the company until the issue is resolved. The University of Kentucky is also reviewing its future business with the t-shirt maker.
Even Lexington’s openly gay mayor has condemned the privately-owned t-shirt company, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader “People don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.”
“I’m against discrimination, period,” Gray said in a statement released to television station WKYT. “It’s bad for business and bad for the city. I support the Human Rights Commission in a full and thorough investigation.”
Real tolerance is apparently unacceptable. The hypocrisy of GLSO is palpable. And trying to use the coercive power of government is disgusting.
Tolerance isn’t a one-sided principle. If one wants people to tolerate their beliefs and lifestyle, it is incumbent upon them to do the same for others. If they actually believe in true tolerance, that is.
What is clear here is GLSO doesn’t.
More disgusting, at least to me, is the inclusion of this ridiculous city level “human rights commission” as a law enforcement agency and it’s obvious intent to force “compliance” against the conscience and principles of the owner.
There was a problem (GLSO wanted T-shirts, T-shirt company refused due to conscience), an offered solution (T-shirt company offers to find another producer at same price) which was reasonable and a rejection of that solution because the group has an political agenda and wishes to force the company to violate its principles and conscience. And which side does government take?
The side that wants to use its coercive power to force that violation.
Let freedom ring.