“This wouldn’t be acceptable to do to a black group,” Paul Brown, chairman of Lexington’s Pride Festival, told the community’s local NBC news affiliate. “This wouldn’t be acceptable to do to a Jewish group, and because of the fairness ordinance it’s unacceptable to do it to a gay group.”
The official discrimination complaint filed with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission reads: “On or about March 8, 2012, members of the GLSO were told that our Pride Festival t-shirt printing quote would not be honored due to the fact that the t-shirt company is a Christian organization. We were told that our t-shirts would not be printed. We believe that we have been discriminated against in violation of Local Ordinance 201-99, based on sexual orientation.”
Kent Ostrander (above), executive director of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, explained that the owners of Hands On Originals were not immediately aware that they were bidding on a project that violated their values. What they told the homosexual group “in a very kind way was, ‘This is against our conscience. We don’t want to be a part of the gay-pride parade.’” Ostrander added that the business owners had located another T-shirt business that would honor their low quote, so no one was harmed.
Nonetheless, the homosexual group filed a complaint with the city, and, while the county’s Human Rights Commission typically deals only with discrimination complaints against individuals and not groups or businesses, because Lexington’s human rights ordinance includes no religious exemption for businesses, the owners of Hands On Originals could end up being fined for their moral stand.
“If you have other organizations using their services and they’ve made t-shirts for them, and this organization is not allowed and the only difference is sexual orientation, that could be problematic,” explained Raymond Sexton, director of the county’s Human Rights Commission. He added that “religious exemption is a valid defense under the local ordinance, but it’s typically reserved for churches. If you’re Hands On Originals, you’re a business, not a religious organization. You’re into t-shirts.”
Regardless of the outcome of the commission’s investigation, the city’s gay lobby has mounted a full-tilt campaign in an attempt to pressure others in the community to pull their business from the popular and economically priced company. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the GLSO coaxed some 60 homosexual activists to picket in front of the business on March 30, expressing their anger and encouraging passersby to bypass the business. One of the homosexual group’s officers, Aaron Baker, told the paper that they weren’t sure how far they wanted to go in punishing Hands On Originals for its Christian stand. “Ultimately the owners of Hands On Originals need to recognize that discrimination is not OK and need to make a commitment not to continue that,” he said.
Baker added his hope that locals would help his group ostracize the Christian firm. “Hands on Originals does a lot of business in this town, and people should be aware of the situation, so they can make an informed decision about whether they want to buy from them,” he said.
According to OneNewsNow.com, the Lexington school district has, at least temporarily, stopped purchasing merchandise from Hands On Originals, and both the city of Lexington and the University of Kentucky are said to be considering dropping the company as a vendor. The pro-family news site quoted Lexington Mayor Jim Gray as quipping that “people don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.”
Ostrander said that “the sad part is that this family, because of this intimidation, bullying factor, might lose their business, or a substantial portion of it, because the University of Kentucky and the public schools side with the gay component. It’s just wrong for government to be involved in this.”
In response to the assault, Hands On Originals’ owner, Blaine Adamson, released a statement to the Lexington Herald-Leader emphasizing that the company “both employs and conducts business with people of all genders, races, religions, sexual preferences, and national origins. However, due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of the company to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.”
Ostrander said that what the whole situation boils down to “is a ‘gay pride’ parade — which is basically a public statement, a policy statement of ‘we’re here and we’re queer and we have to be recognized’ — and this is a Christian owner of a business that does not want to have a part in that statement in the community.”
Threatening businesses large and small that don’t toe the “gay” line has become a preferred tactic of homosexual activists. As reported by The New American, in August 2011 Starbucks faced a gay-activist-driven boycott when its CEO, Howard Schultz, agreed to speak at a Christian leadership conference sponsored by Willow Creek, a Chicago mega-church. Just a month or two earlier, another trendy and popular company, TOMS Shoes, which spends a healthy share of its profits to provide shoes for needy children around the world, was threatened with a boycott by aggrieved gays and their fellow travelers after the company’s founder, Blake Mycoskie, appeared at a weekend “faith in action” event sponsored by Focus on the Family.
As reported by The New American, “When the website Jezebel.com picked up on a Christianity Today story that had included an off-hand comment about Mycoskie’s appearance at the Focus event, the gals at Ms. Magazine launched a fast and furious petition drive through the liberal activist website Change.org, demanding that the TOMS founder apologize for his partnership with Focus — which was identified as an “Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice, Anti-Woman Group” — and promise that he would never make such a grave error in judgment again.
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly has warned of the danger of labeling an individual, group, or business as hateful and intolerant just because “they think differently about some issues than you do. Believing what the Bible says about human sexuality is a personal conviction, not an act of persecution.” But homosexual activists have made it clear that their intent is to damage and destroy those who insist on taking a firm stand against efforts to normalize homosexual behavior and force it upon the culture at large.
Evangelical leader Ed Stetzer has pointed out that the Christian community is increasingly going to be faced with such attacks. Even though “it is easy to make the case … that homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture,” Stetzer wrote in his blog, “it will be an exceedingly difficult case to make in today’s culture” — given the aggressive campaign to make homosexuality an accepted, and celebrated, lifestyle. While Christians can try to find common ground with homosexuals in an effort to show grace and tolerance, Stetzer wrote that ultimately they “will still have to deal with an issue that the world perceives as narrow and bigoted.”