May 16, 2017
When the Constitution protects the freedom of the press, it includes t-shirt presses! The owners of a Kentucky screen printing shop are relieved that at least one court recognizes it and ruled in the Lexington business's favor. Five years after an LGBT group filed a complaint that Blaine Anderson's Hands On Original wouldn't print gay pride t-shirts, the state's court of appeals sided with the owners, ruling that no one should be forced to engage in speech they disagree with -- including small business owners.
Initially, the city's Human Rights Commission found Anderson "guilty" of breaking the town's "fairness" ordinance and sentenced him to "diversity training." At the time, the Commission's Executive Director, Raymond Sexton, infamously said it's time for Christians in the marketplace "to leave their religion at home." By a 2-1 decision, a panel of judges disagreed, ruling that "The right of free speech does not guarantee to any person the right to use someone else's property. The 'conduct' Hands On Originals chose not to promote was pure speech. There is no contention that Hands On Originals is a public forum in addition to a public accommodation. Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits Hands On Originals, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship."
For Blaine, it was a relief to know that "the legal system worked." (Along with great representation from our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom.) As he told reporters, "I don't leave my faith at the door when I walk into my business." Nor should any Christian. Does the government have the power to force citizens to engage in speech they disagree with? The answer is no. Unfortunately, that won't stop the Lexington Human Rights Commission from asking the Kentucky Supreme Court the same question. Unanimously, they voted last night to appeal the ruling to the highest bench in the state. Hopefully, it -- like every court on this case -- will agree: surrendering our First Amendment rights is not the "price of doing business."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.