Kentucky T-Shirt Controversy Reveals Conservative Intent To Discriminate And Stigmatize

The Pride logo Hands On refused to print.

A Kentucky t-shirt company called Hands On recently refused to print apparel for Lexington’s upcoming LGBT pride festival, claiming to be a Christian company. The Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington filed a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission, which protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. National conservative groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council have picked up on the controversy and are defending Hands On, but in doing so reveal a clear intent to demonize and ostracize the LGBT community. Here are recent remarks by FRC’s Tony Perkins and the Family Foundation of Kentucky’s Kent Ostrander, as reported by FOTF’s CitizenLink:

PERKINS: Whether it’s a t-shirt company, wedding photographer, or the church, homosexuals will not be satisfied until they compel us to either spread their perversion or promote it. Unfortunately for these activists, the Constitution doesn’t award its rights on the basis of political correctness.

OSTRANDER: 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 (and may pull their business).  It’s just wrong for government to be involved in this.

Unfortunately for Perkins and Ostrander, the United States has a free market. That market is only free if all citizens have access to it, which is why non-discrimination laws exist. And if individuals wish to avoid a certain business because of its practices, that’s not “intimidation” — that’s life.

These conservatives’ complaints are ironic when juxtaposed with the National Organization for Marriage’s boycott of Starbucks over its support for marriage equality. The campaign continues to be a dismal failure, outpaced nearly 20 to 1 by the Thank You, Starbucks response and rebuffed by a a sharp increase in Starbucks’ stock value. Apparently, though, it is acceptable to challenge a business for supporting gay rights, but not for openly discriminating against gay people.