Monday, October 12, 2009

Southern Kentucky article blasts homosexual benefits at the University of Kentucky; Kentucky Equality Federation and Louisville Fairness Campaign Respond

An article recently appeared in a Southern Kentucky newspaper chastising the University of Kentucky for offering 'homosexual' benefits, and attributing this to UK's 'fall in national rankings.'

The Article appears below, followed by our response:

Click here to view the article.

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10/18/2009 Update: Since the owner will not respond to our telephone calls or emails, we are identifying the paper as "The Mountain Shopper." They claim to be "The Leader for Buying, Selling, Trading, Community News, and Special Sections in and around Perry County, Kentucky.

The following was mailed and emailed to the editor:

The University of Kentucky is not 'reaping what is sewed' as stated in a recent article in your paper written by Don Pinson (attached). Failure to offer equal benefits to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, implies those professors are not going to be among the highest quality. With healthcare costs continuing to rise, how could any Kentuckian not see the benefits of allowing more people access to healthcare? The University of Kentucky offers this to both homosexual and heterosexual couples.

Is UK's drop in ranking a direct result of offering domestic partner benefits?
  • Looking at the schools currently in the top spots among the 1400 ranked by US News and World Report, of the top 125 (UK is currently 128), 60 offer domestic partner benefits.
  • Of the top 10 schools, the University of Wisconsin is the only one not to offer equal benefits.
  • Without exception, all of the Ivy League schools offer benefits on an equal basis.
  • Michigan State has adapted pretty well to the problem by creating a pilot program for a new class called O.E.I. or Other Eligible Individual. This program which began in 2007 and is scheduled to end at the end of this plan year was designed to allow policy holders to include one extra person on their coverage that was not family or married to them. Thus far this program has effectively worked within the parameters of the existing law in Michigan which is very similar to that in Kentucky.

Speaking for Kentucky Equality Federation, a statewide grassroots LGBTI civil rights organization, President Jordan Palmer stated, "Don Pinson used quotes from former U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster, calling him the 'great American statesman.' Let us not forget that Webster supported the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 that required federal officials to recapture and return runaway slaves. Thankfully, our republic has made significant progress since then, and we continue to strive for tolerance, acceptance, and diversity, the very thing that makes both our Commonwealth and our entire Union great."

Palmer continued: "The Kentucky Constitution guarantees the separate of church and state, and for good reason; more wars have been fought over differences in religious beliefs that any other wars in recorded history. Former Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo (whose legal opinions are binding on all subdivisions of the Commonwealth) ruled that a domestic partner benefit was not a violation of the Commonwealth's Constitution so long as changes were made (and the universities complied)."

Speaking for Louisville's Fairness Campaign, a champion for LGBTI civil rights in Jefferson County, Rev. Ryan Kemp-Pappan, Associate Minister for Spiritual Formation of the Douglas Boulevard Christian Church stated, "I grow weary of folks using 'God' as a weapon against the challenge to their own bigotry and hate. In his article titled 'UK Is Reaping What It Has Sown,' Don Pinson evokes a dividing God that demands utter allegiance to 'The Law.' In doing so he dominates the civil voices of other citizens to judge and convict their behavior as immoral. Don uses Old Testament scripture to support his claim. I never trust a person that proof text scripture to form a God that sounds and acts a lot like they do. Don may I remind you of the call of Jesus the Christ in the Gospel of John [13:34-35] "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." Where is the love in withholding health insurance to all of the employees and their partners? It is not a matter of who is right or wrong as much as it is a matter of what is right and wrong. That is an issue you have no right in proclaiming."

The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Social Workers have stated that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality, and that different people realize at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. People are born heterosexual or homosexual, it isn't a choice.

"Mr. Pinson ends his article with 'think about it; because if you don’t someone else will do your thinking for you---and for your children.' This is a great line and very true. The only part that is a bit hypocritical is that to do your own thinking, you need to be informed from all aspects and not blindly accept what you are being told. Mr. Pinson here is obviously trying to do the thinking for his readers. Hopefully by pointing out some other facts that will put his opinions into context, the readers really will be able to think about it," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Latino Outreach Director John Bentley.

"Reaping what you have sown? Double check your seeds before you plant the next time Mr. Pinson and perhaps you won't be left with a garden where nothing has sprouted. Articles should not be based on hatred, lies, and fear of what you don't understand and refuse to tolerate. Thankfully our ancestors from Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and other countries learned the value of acceptance and tolerance [even though their home countries hated each other] otherwise, our nation would never have been born," added Palmer. "No moral is qualified or justified in judging me or the gay community; this right is reserved solely by God."

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Special thanks to the students at Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky for contributing to this article. Special thanks to the students at Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, Berea College, Hazard Community College, Alice Lloyd College, the University of the Cumberlands, and Pikeville College for distributing this article.

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