Christian Business Owner Refuses to Print Gay T-Shirt. Gay Business Owner Agrees?
Are you willing to promote messages and ideas that you don’t support?
Would you be willing to help support an organization, parade, or message that violates your values and beliefs?
That’s the position Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands On Originals, a Christian-owned T-shirt printing company has found himself in.
When Adamson refused to print a T-shirt promoting a homosexual message and parade, which would have violated his religious convictions, he was sued. He was accused of discrimination and bigotry for his actions though Adamson and his company have not only worked with homosexuals, but employed them, in the past.
Nevertheless, the lawsuit proceeded and Adamson was charged with discrimination and found guilty after the incident in 2012. Adamson has since been ordered to attend “diversity training” in order to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen in the future.
While this story seems to be common in our society, what is not common is an uncommon ally coming to the defense of Adamson and his right to refuse to violate his values and convictions.
Kathy Trautvetter also owns a T-shirt printing company. Trautvetter supports Adamsons right to decline a project if it would violate his religious convictions or conscience. What makes Trautvetters position so interesting is that she is a lesbian. She began her company with her partner, Kathy, in 2003.
But Trautvetter, unlike many homosexuals and their advocates, can see this issue clearly, with a measure of tolerance and respect missing from the discussion. She realizes that if the government can force Adamson to violate his convictions they can also force her to violate her values. Practically speaking, this means the government could force Trautvetter to print a shirt for a pro-traditional marriage organization or parade. Trautvetter sees the danger in cheering the government position.
Trautvetter recently commented:
“I was fascinated by the story, because we are a T-shirt maker. When I read the story I immediately felt, ‘If I were in his shoes, what would they be forcing me to do?’ I have to say, if that were me I wouldn’t like it either…The idea is that when you own your own business, it’s your own art and creation — it’s very personal … it takes a long time to build a business. When someone wants to force you to go against it — that’s what stuck me right in the heart. I really felt for Blaine.”
She’s asking the right questions. What would the government be forcing her to do if it can force Adamson to print a T-shirt that violates his religious convictions? But she also makes the case that printing T-shirts is a form of art, speech, and is protected by the First Amendment.
To that end more than one observer has argued that cake makers, T-shirt printers, and photographers engage in a form of art and, therefore, their art and speech is protected by the First Amendment. This being the case the government has no ground, legally, to demand that Adamson print the T-shirt in question. For that matter, the government has no right to demand a cake baker make a cake or that a photographer take pictures. Compelling any of these individuals to produce art, a form of speech, which violates their religious convictions, is blatantly unconstitutional.
Trautvetter gives a picture of true tolerance in another comment she made:
“There are a lot of people out there who would want to host your event or want to work with you and I would go with someone who wants to help rather than someone who doesn’t.”
The word tolerance has been hijacked by cultural revisionists to mean “accepting, supporting, and celebrating every point of view, idea, and lifestyle.” This is nowhere near the definition of tolerance. The real definition of tolerance is “respecting the ability and right of others to hold a divergent view.” In other words, it’s the ability to agree to disagree, and do it civilly. If I want to be tolerant it means I respect the right of people to disagree with me, to hold ideas and values that are different than mine; and they do the same for me.
But offering true tolerance to others is seemingly a lost art in our society. You either agree and support every view that every person adheres to or you are instantly labeled a discriminatory bigot. There’s no room for a person to hold their own view in higher esteem than every other view because every view is now on equal footing. It’s an odd absurdity.
I’m encouraged by Trautvetters handling of the situation; and her ability to offer true tolerance to someone she disagrees with. It gives me hope that perhaps the possibility of regaining tolerance as a foundational characteristic of our society is attainable.
Trautvetter, I hope, is just one of a growing number of homosexuals that are beginning to see the dangers of governmental efforts to force people to violate their consciences. Because, as she said, if the government will force one group to do it, they certainly will force all do to it.
I agree entirely with Trautvetters summary of the situation:
“I don’t think it does anybody any good to force somebody to do something …”