Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

When Fayette County Judge James Ishmael issued a ruling last Monday reversing the Lexington Human Rights Commission's 2014 decision that Hands On Originals violated Lexington's fairness ordinance by refusing to print tee shirts for the Lexington's Gay and Lesbian Services Organization's Lexington Pride Festival in 2012, many heralded the decision as a victory for religious freedom. While that may be true, it also signified a much larger victory for common civility. As patrons and consumers, each person has the freedom to deny a business their patronage and take their dollars elsewhere. If a store refuses my business because I have blue eyes, I am free to take my business somewhere else. In recent years, several organizations have called for boycotts of various establishments to show displeasure by taking away from their bottom lines. Hands On Originals did not refuse anyone admission to their store, nor did they refuse the LGLSO's request based on discriminatory grounds. They adhered to a religious belief that they felt prohibited them performing a desired action. In a society which stresses tolerance of beliefs more and more, the LGLSO should have respected that belief and moved on, rather than putting Hands On Originals in the crosshairs of a battle it never meant to fight. If gay and lesbian organizations truly want to level the playing field on tolerance, they need to learn that sometimes the best course of action can also be the simplest.