December 2019 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Oct. 31 dismissed a case on technical grounds that concerned a company whose Christian owners refused to make T-shirts for an LGBTQ Pride festival.

The company, Hands On Originals, provides personalized items such as hats, mugs, T-shirts and bags for customers bearing company logos and other messages. Citing their religious beliefs, the firm’s owners refused to provide Pride T-shirts for the Gay and Lesbian Service Organization (GLSO) of Lexington. On its website, the firm refers to itself as “Christian outfitters.”

Aaron Baker, GLSO’s president, subsequently filed a complaint against Hands On Originals before the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, which brought legal action against the Lexington-based company.

The state high court ruled that while the case raised “very important issues,” it must be dismissed because under Kentucky law, only an individual can raise a claim of discrimination.

Asserted the court in Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands On Originals, “[B]ecause an ‘individual’ did not file the claim, but rather an organization did, we would have to determine whether the organization is a member of the protected class, which we find impossible to ascertain.”

Americans United’s Legal Department filed a brief in the case, urging the court to reject religion-based ration­ales for discrimination.