I’m a T-Shirt Maker With Gay Customers and Gay Employees. Still I Was Sued.
In 2012, my promotional printing company, Hands on Originals, was approached by a customer to print a message that conflicted with my conscience. When I said no, they sued me.
Hi, my name is Blaine Adamson.
I got into the T-shirt printing business because I wanted to create Christian shirts that people would want to wear. Christian T-shirts at the time were so cheesy, they were so bad.
For all the years that I’ve been running my business, Hands on Originals, I’ve happily served and employed people of all backgrounds, of all walks of life.
That’s why it was hard in 2012 when a customer sued us after I politely declined to make T-shirts promoting the local pride festival. I was surprised because I work with and serve gay people. But I can’t print any message that goes against my faith, no matter who asks me to print it. And whenever I can’t print something, I always offer them to another local print shop.
As is the custom for T-shirt makers of all kinds, I’ve declined plenty of orders in the past. For example, I was once asked to make a shirt with Jesus on a bucket of chicken, with chicken coming out of the bucket. I didn’t feel right making that one. I’ve been asked to make a shirt promoting an adult film, one that promoted a strip club, and one or two that promoted violence. I couldn’t in good conscience print any of those shirts.
Another shirt we declined was a simple black shirt with white text that read, “Homosexuality is a sin.” I didn’t feel right making that one either. I don’t think that’s how Jesus would have handled the issue; Jesus would have balanced grace and truth.
I have gay customers and employ gay people. For example, we have printed materials for a local band called Mother Jane whose lead singer is a lesbian. That was never a problem for us because, as I said, we’ll work with everyone, but we can’t print all messages.
Shortly after our case started, two lesbian printers in New Jersey voiced their support for us because they didn’t want to be forced to print messages that would violate their consciences.
That’s why I was glad when a judge ruled that I had the freedom to decide which messages I wanted to promote. An appeals court also agreed. Unfortunately, though, the government has appealed again, this time asking the Kentucky Supreme Court to hear the case.
The bottom line, for me? I love designing T-shirts, and I’d be pretty crushed if I had to close down Hands On, especially after all the years of building the business, serving the community, and doing what I love.
All we are asking for is that the government not force us to promote messages against our convictions. Everyone should have that freedom.
Originally published September 17, 2017 at The Daily Signal and is reprinted with permission.