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Hands On Originals v. Baker

Case Seeking Religious Exemption From Local Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Key Date: October 31, 2019
Status: Ruling Issued by Kentucky Supreme Court
Legal Team: Alliance Defending Freedom
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination

Hands On Originals Case Overview:

Hands On Originals v. Baker concerns a promotional printing company that refused to print t-shirts for a Kentucky LGBTQ organization, the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization, for the annual Lexington Pride Celebration. Lexington-Fayette county has a nondiscrimination ordinance on the books that prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by public accommodations. The owner of the business, Blaine Adamson, has attempted to claim that his refusal to print the t-shirts is exempt from the county ordinance because, he claims, being requiring to print them would violate his religious beliefs and freedom of speech.

Latest in the Case:

In October 2019 the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in the Hands on Originals case that an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Lexington did not protect groups from anti-LGBTQ discrimination, just individuals. The ruling did not overturn the Lexington nondiscrimination ordinance – it simply said that the organization was not protected. Read the ruling.

Case History:

  • 2012: The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization requests that Hands On Originals print t-shirts for use at Lexington’s annual Pride Festival. The business’s owner, Blaine Adamson, refuses, claiming that enforcement of the Lexington-Fayette county’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance would violate his religious beliefs and rights of free speech.
  • 2014The Lexington-Fayette Human Rights Commission issues a final ruling that states Hands On Originals violated the existing ordinance by discriminating against the LGBTQ organization. Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal team for Adamson, appeals the decision to the Kentucky Appeals Court
  • May 2017The Kentucky Court of Appeals overturns the Human Rights Commission’s ruling, with one judge concluding that Adamson’s right to free speech was compromised, but not his religious freedoms; a second judge concurring only in the result and concluding that Adamson’s religious freedoms were violated; and a third judge dissenting and concluding that the Human Rights Commission was correct. The defendants have appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which agreed in November 2017 to consider the appeal.
  • August 22, 2019: The Kentucky Supreme Court hears oral argument in the case. We now await a ruling from the high court. 

Last Updated December 28, 2019

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