Gov. Bevin Submits Amicus Brief in Support of Local Business Ordered to Print T-Shirts in Violation of Religious Beliefs

Matt Bevin

Gov. Matt Bevin has submitted an amicus brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court in the landmark case of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission v. Hands-On Originals.

Gov. Bevin’s amicus brief supports Hands-On Originals, a small t-shirt printing business in Lexington.  In 2014, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission determined that Hands-On violated Lexington’s fairness ordinance after the owners declined to print t-shirts promoting homosexuality because it would violate their deeply held religious beliefs.  Both the Fayette Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals subsequently ruled in favor of Hands-On before an appeal was filed with the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Gov. Bevin’s amicus brief argues in support of Hands-On, stating that, from its earliest days, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has been a haven for those seeking to live out their religious beliefs.  As the brief points out, many of Kentucky’s earliest settlers came to Kentucky in search of religious freedom.  The brief also argues that the drafters of Kentucky’s Constitution specifically rejected any limitation of freedom of conscience and that requiring Hands-On’s owners to print t-shirts promoting homosexuality violates the freedom-of-conscience guarantees enshrined in the Commonwealth’s Constitution.

“For over two centuries, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has protected its citizens’ right to act according to their conscience,” said Steve Pitt, Gov. Bevin’s General Counsel.  “This important case, which has attracted national attention, tests whether Kentucky’s history of safeguarding freedom of conscience will continue or be curtailed.  Requiring Hands-On’s owners to engage in speech with which they disagree is a violation of their freedom of conscience, and we are hopeful that the Kentucky Supreme Court will reaffirm this bedrock of Kentucky’s constitutional charter.”

Many other parties joined the Commonwealth in submitting amicus briefs in support of Hands-On Originals, including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Jews for Religious Liberty, the Cato Institute, CatholicVote.org, and the American Center for Law and Justice.

A copy of Gov. Bevin’s amicus brief can be found here.

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