The Supreme Court of Kentucky has thrown out a lawsuit against a t-shirt manufacturer that refused to print gay pride t-shirts on religious grounds.
Two previous courts had come to similar conclusions in the suit, which was filed by the LGBTQ rights organization Lexington’s Gay and Lesbian Services. The group had approached Hands-On Originals, owned by Blake Adamson, to print shirts that read “Lexington Pride Festival” in 2012. Adamson’s refusal led to the lawsuit.
“While this result is no doubt disappointing to many interested in this case and its potential outcome, the fact that the wrong party filed the complaint makes the discrimination analysis almost impossible to conduct, including issues related to freedom of expression and religion,” the court wrote in its decision. In layman’s terms, the court punted, essentially refusing to make a decision on if a shop owner can discriminate against a customer on religious grounds. Instead, the judges ruled that Lexington’s Gay & Lesbian Services had no right to sue, as anti-discrimination laws only protect individuals, not groups.
The Kentucky ruling comes at a sensitive time, as the Trump Administration has argued before the federal Supreme Court that queer Americans are not entitled to job protections.