Lexington-Fayette Urban v. Hands On Originals, Inc. (Commonwealth of Kentucky Supreme Court, 2018)


Citing religious objections, a business owner refused to sell custom t-shirts bearing “Lexington Pride Festival 2012” and rainbow colored circles to a non-profit LGBTQ organization. The local human rights commission found that the vendor’s actions violated a human rights ordinance, which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. A lower court reversed the commission’s determination, finding that it infringed on the vendor’s First Amendment free speech rights. ADL joined a brief asserting that this determination did not violate the First Amendment for two reasons. First, the speech at issue belonged to the LGBTQ organization and not the vendor. Second, the Establishment Clause prohibits granting religious exemptions from generally applicable laws when the exemptions would harm third parties. Furthermore, the vendor failed to meet the elements of the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which also was raised as defense. ADL joined a subsequent, supplemental brief. It asserts that lower court’s decision violates the principles set out in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which involved similar facts and claims.