As we finish Thanksgiving and move toward Christmas (or whatever you may choose to celebrate), we realize there is much to be thankful about this holiday season. Queer communities enjoyed some major victories in the recent elections. Three states voted for gay marriage, and one voted not to create a Prop 8-type legislation. Gay officials were elected to office in several places including Tammy Baldwin who will serve as the US Senate’s first openly gay senator. In Lexington, we have enjoyed a massive victory as well. The Human Rights Commission ruled that Hands On Originals (HOO) is guilty of discrimination by refusing to print the 2012 Lexington Pride Festival t-shirts.
To recap, the Lexington Pride Festival Committee gathered quotes last year to have their t-shirts printed. HOO provided the best quote for the needs of the committee. When the committee contacted HOO to accept the quote, HOO refused to do the work under the grounds that they were a Christian organization.
The Lexington Pride Festival is a committee of the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO). The committee reported HOO’s refusal to the board, which decided to pursue a discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The board was able to do this under Lexington’s Fairness Ordinance. The Fairness Ordinance states that a company that provides general services cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. The GLSO argued that printing t-shirts is a general service; therefore, HOO cannot discriminate against GLSO by refusing to print t-shirts on Christian grounds after providing a quote.
The story went viral, was in the newspaper for several days, made TV media, spawned two Facebook groups, and saw a protest demonstration take place. The HRC began working immediately and gathered mountains of research. HOO asked for mediation, and representatives of GLSO met with them at the HRC. Mediation failed, and the HRC kept the investigation going.
After months of diligent research and investigating, the HRC finally produced a verdict against HOO. The GLSO was elated, and is proud to operate in Lexington. GLSO president Aaron Baker said, “We didn’t win any money – we won what we were looking for all along – a declaration that HOO acted wrongly and an order not to do it again.” This situation demonstrates that gay people do not have to put up with discrimination. They are valuable members of our society, and Lexington knows it. Perhaps the best holiday gift of all is knowing that we can stand up for our rights and win.
Click here for the official judgment from HRC