In this week's conflict, a t-shirt company called Hands On Originals, is refusing to print pro-homosexual t-shirts for a gay pride parade. The t-shirt company is claiming that they aren't refusing to make the t-shirts because the customers themselves are homosexual, but because they don't want to support the cause as a whole. The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization in Lexington feels like the company is discriminating against homosexuals and is violating their basic rights by not providing them service; consequently, they filed a complaint.
Two polar sides unearthed from this issue. A state agency asserted that the company must provide service to everyone and that it isn't allowed to refuse service to customers based on their sexual orientation. However, the Fayette Circuit Court stated that the first amendment gives the company the right to speak or not to speak -- which grants them the right to decide what type of messages are printed on their t-shirts. As a result of the complexity and significance of the case, it was sent to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals.
The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization feels like they have a good chance of winning this case in court due to similar incidents that have happened this past year. A few months back, an Oregon bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. After a long process of arguing the various perspectives to such a case, the court ruled that businesses cannot refuse any type of services based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot deny service on the basis of race, sex, disability, age or religion. As a result, the bakery was then fined 135,00 dollars for all the emotional pain that was brought upon the couple. Thus, the organization believes that they can use this previous case as precedent for their case.
However, others believe, that even with widespread support, it's going to be hard for the Gay and Lesbian Organization to convince the court to force the company to print a specific message they don't believe in. The first amendment is one of the fundamental rights that our nation was founded and built upon, and in cases such as NYT v. Sullivan, we have seen how hard it is to infringe upon a party’s first amendment right. Even constitutional expert, Eugene Volokh, who graduated from UCLA School of Law, stated that, "Printers have a First Amendment right to choose which speech they will help disseminate and which they will not" (Source).
Due to the many different perspectives in such a case, it is simply tricky in nature. In the past, some cases such as the Oregon bakery case have shown us that corporations can't always maintain their beliefs under the law, but in other cases such as Hobby Lobby, the court ruled that businesses have the right to maintain their opinions and should not be forced to do something that goes against their own beliefs. Due to these facts, there is no real certainty that the case will go one way or the other. Ultimately, it's going to be hard to say with a hundred percent confidence who is going to win the case. In your opinion, who do you think has a better chance of winning the case and why? Also, do you think that the company should be forced to print the pro-homosexuality shirts for the customers, or do you think that they should be entitled to deny them sales under the first amendment?