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Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands on Originals

Supreme Court of Kentucky

October 31, 2019

LEXINGTON-FAYETTE URBAN COUNTY HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION APPELLANT
v.
HANDS ON ORIGINALS APPELLEE

          ON REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2015-CA-000745-MR FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT NO. 14-CI-04474

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Edward E. Dove

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Bryan Howard Beauman STURGILL, TURNER, BARKER & MOLONEY, PLLC Kenneth J. Connelly Jeana Hallock James A. Campbell Kristen K. Waggoner ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM

          COUNSEL FOR SUTHERLAND INSTITUTE AMICUS CURIAE: Edward Leo Metzger III ADAMS, STEPNER, WOLTERMANN 85 DUSING, PLLC

          COUNSEL FOR SHERIF GIRGIS AMICUS CURIAE: Matthew C. Hess BELL, HESS & VAN ZANT, PLC

          COUNSEL FOR AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE AMICUS CURIAE: Thomas Patrick Monaghan AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW 85 JUSTICE Geoffrey R. Surtees CENTER FOR LAW & JUSTICE FOR CATHOLICS UNITED FOR LIFE

          COUNSEL FOR CENTER FOR RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AMICUS CURIAE: Stanton L. Cave THE LAW OFFICE OF STAN CAVE

          COUNSEL FOR CATHOLICVOTE.ORG AMICUS CURIAE: Brian Keith Privett BRIAN PRIVETT LAW OFFICES Scott W. Gaylord PROFESSOR OF LAW AT ELON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW

          COUNSEL FOR LAW AND ECONOMICS SCHOLARS AMICUS CURIAE: Anthony Charles Donahue DONAHUE LAW GROUP, P.S.C.

          COUNSEL FOR ETHICS AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION AMICUS CURIAE: Aaron John Silletto GOLDBERG SIMPSON, LLC John J. Bursch BURSCH LAW PLLC

          COUNSEL FOR JEWS AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AMICUS CURIAE: Aaron John Silletto GOLDBERG SIMPSON, LLC John J. Bursch BURSCH LAW PLLC

          COUNSEL FOR KENTUCKY BAPTIST CONVENTION AMICUS CURIAE: Aaron John Silletto GOLDBERG SIMPSON, LLC John J. Bursch BURSCH LAW PLLC

          COUNSEL FOR CATO INSTITUTE AMICUS CURIAE: Christopher L. Thacker BILLINGS LAW FIRM, PLLC Eugene Volokh SCOTT 8s CYAN BANISTER UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW

          COUNSEL FOR THE BECKET FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AMICUS CURIAE: Richard Garrett Griffith Elizabeth S. Muyskens STOLL, KEENON & OGDEN, PLLC COUNSEL FOR TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC. AMICUS CURIAE:

          COUNSEL FOR TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC. AMICUS CURIAE: Wesley Reed Butler Holly Iaccarino BARNETT BENVENUTI & BUTLER PLLC

          COUNSEL FOR COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, EX REL. MATTHEW G. BEVIN, GOVERNOR AMICUS CURIAE: Mark Stephen Pitt Stephen Chad Meredith Matthew Kuhn OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

          COUNSEL FOR THE STATE OF ARKANSAS, ALABAMA, KANSAS, LOUISIANA, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH CAROLINA, TEXAS, AND WEST VIRGINIA AMICUS CURIAE: John Choate Roach RANSDELL, ROACH & ROYCE PLLC Dylan L. Jacobs ASSISTANT SOLICITOR GENERAL OF ARKANSAS

          COUNSEL FOR LEGAL SCHOLARS AMICUS CURIAE: Brian Lee Schuette Joshua Hershberger CRAIN SCHUETTE ATTORNEYS

          COUNSEL FOR AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR BEND THE ARC AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR A JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR JUSTICE AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR INTERFAITH ALLIANCE FOUNDATION AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUSEL FOR LAMBDA LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND, INC. AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY FOUNDATION AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR WOMEN OF REFORM JUDAISM AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          COUNSEL FOR NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN, INC. AMICUS CURIAE: David B. Tachau TACHAU MEEK PLC Robert D. Kamenshine Richard B. Katskee Kelly M. Percival

          OPINION

         The ability of federal, state and local governments to protect individuals from discrimination by places of public accommodation is beyond question. While very important issues have been presented to the Court in this case, this matter must be dismissed because the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization ("GLSO"), the original party to bring this action before the Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission ("Commission"), lacked statutory standing to assert a claim against Hands On Originals ("Hands On") under the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government ("LFUCG") ordinance, Section 2-33, and KRS[1] 344.120.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background.

         Hands On, a closely-held corporation with three owners, is a small business located in Lexington which prints promotional materials such as shirts, hats, bags, blankets, cups, bottles and mugs for its customers. Hands On employs graphic design artists to implement its customers' expressive purposes. Blaine Adamson, one of Hands On's three shareholders, is its managing owner. He, along with the other two Hands On shareholders/owners, are Christians who operate Hands On consistently with their understanding of the Bible's teachings. The Commission found that Hands On's religious beliefs are sincerely held. Hands On's stated policy on its website provides:

Right of Refusal: Hands On Originals both employs and conducts business with people of all genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, and national origins. However, due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of Hands On Originals to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.

         Hands On owners believe that sexual relations should occur only within a marriage between a man and a woman. To be clear, while they disapprove of relations between members of the same sex, they also disapprove of nonmarital sexual relations between a man and a woman.

         GLSO is a Kentucky not-for-profit corporation, [2] based in Lexington, which represents and advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and allied community ("LGBTQ"). GLSO holds an annual event called the "Lexington Pride Festival" that supports this community and its message. As noted by the circuit court, "[t]hrough its various programs, publications and other media, GLSO speaks in favor of sexual relationships and sexual activities outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. GLSO seeks to change attitudes concerning this issue and ...


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