Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kentucky Equality Federation applauds pre-filed legislation to overturn Kentucky's same-sex barriage ban

Kentucky Equality Federation applauds legislation pre-filed by Representative Mary Lou Marzian (BR 93) to place the issue of same-sex marriage or civil unions back in the hands of Kentucky citizens.

Earlier this year, Kentucky Equality Federation and Marriage Equality Kentucky began collecting signatures to present to lawmakers to repeal the law by giving voters another opportunity to vote on the issue. The "Marriage Declaration," started in July 2009.

Currently, the Commonwealth will not recognize any type of same-sex union. Marriage, domestic partnerships, and civil unions are all illegal in Kentucky (even if performed in other countries or states).

"We are very pleased with Representative Marzain's pre-filed bill," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Currently, same-sex couples are basically 'second-class' citizens even though we pay the same taxes as everyone else; same-sex couples currently have absolutely no rights whatsoever and the Kentucky Constitution doesn't mention having a lower class of people. If this passes both the Kentucky House and Senate and voters ratify it, lawmakers would then be able to legislate domestic-partnerships, or civil unions, such as the new domestic partnership law in the state of Washington."

Legislation was also filed this year to repeal Michigan’s Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Palmer continued, "We could certainly reach a compromise with domestic partnerships or civil unions. Being able to file joint income-tax returns, having hospital visitation rights, making medical decisions for your partner, spousal privilege, the right to inherit property, and many other benefits are the very foundation of any union. Same-sex couples are not asking for special treatment, we simple want to be treated equal; we love, honor, and cherish our partners the same as heterosexual couples."

"I realize some will turn this into a religious debate, but we have separate of church and state; the Kentucky Constitution clearly states 'absolute and arbitrary power over the lives, liberty and property of freemen exists nowhere in a republic, not even in the largest majority,' and that is exactly what Section 223A of the Constitution has done. The Constitution also states 'the civil rights, privileges or capacities of no person shall be taken away, or in anywise diminished or enlarged, on account of his belief or disbelief of any religious tenet, dogma or teaching.'"

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.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kentucky Equality Federation Comments on Massachusetts Lawsuit Against DOMA

"Kentucky Equality Federation applauds the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for suing the U.S. government for intruding on states' rights with the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "This is a step in the right direction, a state [instead of its citizens] has said enough is enough; we demand full liberty and equality for our citizens now."

The Commonwealth sued the U.S. government in federal court today.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kentucky Equality Federation today condemned the allocation of $1.2 million dollars in federal funding to the University of the Cumberlands

Kentucky Equality Federation today condemned the allocation of $1.2 million dollars in federal funding to the University of the Cumberlands.

The funds will be used to help construct a health and wellness center for students, faculty and community members and a new science and technology building for the university. U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (R) requested a total of 4 million dollars for projects at the University of the Cumberlands.

"Kentucky Equality Federation remains opposed to the allocation of public funds to an institution that discriminates against a minority group," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "If all the citizens of the Commonwealth cannot enjoy the new facilities this money will bring, it must be challenged. Separation of Church and State must be maintained; funding a facility which will reject gay and lesbian people is unacceptable."

Palmer concluded, "Kentucky Equality Federation will investigate all available options with its legal counsel and urge the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky to do the same."

Halyn Roth, Kentucky Equality Federation's Regional Director for Southern Kentucky added, "The University of the Cumberlands is an institution of learning and is meant to inspire young minds to become the leaders of tomorrow, but with the backwards policies of the University leaders, they are indeed causing the downfall of progress as we know it."

In 2007 Kentucky Equality Federation co-sponsored the 2007 Soulforce/Equality Ride at the University of the Cumberlands. Dozens of gay and lesbian activists were arrested and community members held signs reading "You Will Be Judged," and "Repent Now," among others. Nick Herweck, now Kentucky Equality Federation's Treasurer spent most of the day directing representatives from Soulforce to the Whitley County Jail to post bond for those arrested.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kentucky Equality Federation responds to the University of the Cumberlands

As requested by reporters, Kentucky Equality Federation today released the following statement regarding the University of Cumberlands rejecting assistance from the Broadway Baptist Church. 

The Broadway Baptist Church Chapel Choir, a high school group that has toured the nation and England on concert and mission trips, has been told that it is not welcome to perform and work in a Kentucky Baptist mission program.

The news came just before the group was to depart for its annual summer mission trip — and a week after the Southern Baptist Convention severed its ties with the Fort Worth church because of what leaders called a lenient stance on homosexuality.

The choir was informed by letter Monday that it was "uninvited" to participate in the Mountain Outreach program at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. Officials of the school, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, declined to comment Wednesday.


The United States and our Commonwealth was built on the concept of freedom of religion. I believe that people are free to choose and practice their own religious and spiritual beliefs in whatever way they choose so long as they do not receive government funding or benefits of any kind. Our founding fathers knew the consequences of mixing Church and State. I applaud the Broadway Baptist Church for realizing that you cannot discriminate against your fellow man or woman and disguise the hatred as ‘indifference of religious views.’

The only people who will lose are those at the University of the Cumberlands and the citizens of the Commonwealth since a group of people cannot participate in the school’s Mountain Outreach program, which builds houses for disadvantaged people in the region.

As a practicing Christian, I must leave you with the following passages as an individual, and not as president of Kentucky Equality Federation. I get so tired of various churches turning religion against the LGBTI community.

I accept all forms of religion that are based on love, and it is not my intention (or place) to force a religious belief on anyone, but many in the LGBTI community continue to believe that they cannot be religious because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that must be challenged because it simply isn't true. I'm sure the Broadway Baptist Church also hold the following passages close to their hearts :
  • John 4:20: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? The scripture is not just talking about our natural brother, it is speaking about our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is a powerful statement, but the Word says it. We cannot just agree with some of God's Word. If we do not agree we are commanded to do it anyway, because we are God's Children.
  • Matthew 22:36-40: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the greatest commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hangeth the whole law, and the prophets.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kentucky Equality Federation supports gay and lesbian students' protest at Franklin County High School

Kentucky Equality Federation received reports that a Franklin County High official allegedly sent an email to teachers instructing them not to allow homosexuals to leave class to use the restroom.

The email was allegedly sent after two female classmates were caught kissing in the public restroom.

In response, 15 students protested outside the school today.

"My daughter was involved in a protest at Franklin County High School today for their right to use the restroom," stated Michelle Sexton.

"I have been in contact with one of the parents of the children involved in the protest and we support their constitutional right to assemble peacefully," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "We call on the media to investigate this issue further and shed light on the discrimination gays and lesbians face throughout the Commonwealth. Kentucky Equality Federation will also be contacting the other parents of the children involved in today's protest."

Though Superintendent Harrie Buecker stated steps are being taken to address the students' concerns, Kentucky Equality Federation is concerned they will not be addressed properly. Though not directly connected, Kentucky Equality Federation has received similar complaints in Casey, Pulaski, and Powell counties about unfair treatment of gay and lesbian students and teachers.

"I'd like to know what level this mentality, that gay and lesbian students should not be treated equally is coming from. An incident in one county could be called an isolated incident, but we now have similar reports in three other Kentucky Counties," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Managing Director Laura Reed.

Kentucky Equality Federation will continue its own investigation and assist parents or students in filing any necessary complaints with Kentucky officials.

Palmer added that assembling together in a peaceful manner is the most basic right granted by the Kentucky Constitution, and that Kentucky Equality Federation had contacted the Office of Helen W. Mountjoy, Kentucky's Secretary of Education for assistance in resolving the issues.

Kentucky Equality Federation offers an online complaint system for people around the Commonwealth to report discrimination or harassment. The online complaint system can be located at www.kyequality.org.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Kentucky Equality Federation is proud to announce its collaboration with We Care Child and Family Services.

We Care is a child-placing agency offering services to children in need of substitute care. An all inclusive agency, We Care proudly serves a variety of cultures to include LGBTI teenagers and at risk youth.

On Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009, Kentucky Equality Federation is giving back to an organization that gives so much to youth and the community. Kentucky Equality Federation is donating thirty (30) 'survival kits' to the children of We Care, containing everyday necessities such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, body spray, toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.

"After a failed attack on the LGBTI community's ability to adopt children and serve as foster parents with Senate Bill 68, we thought this was a wonderful thing to do for our youth," stated Laura Reed, Kentucky Equality Federation's Managing Director.

For additional information about We Care Child and Family Services, visit http://www.wecarefamilies.com

Thursday, March 5, 2009


"Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Robert Stivers (R) decision to hear this discriminatory legislation to harm Kentucky’s children follows opposition across Kentucky," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Groups opposing Senator Tapp’s bill include the Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Progressive Democrats of America, the Libertarian Party of Kentucky, and others that rallied with us in Frankfort, KY on February 25th."

Kentucky Equality Federation believes the legislation will die in the House of Representatives should it pass the full Senate.

"It is a disgrace that members of Kentucky's Senate are using children as political pawns against the gay and lesbian population of Kentucky," stated Kentucky Equality Federation's Managing Director, Laura Reed.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Kentucky Equality Federation condemns Senate Bill 68 filed by Senator Gary Tapp (R). Senate Bill 68 would make it illegal for any 'unmarried couple' to adopt a child or serve as foster parents in Kentucky.

"Senate Bill 68 isn't about protecting children, it is about harming a specific group of people, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community of the Commonwealth. Thousands of adoptable children are currently languishing in foster care, many bouncing from home to home or from institution to institution. This bill would also prevent all single people (including our straight allies) from serving as foster parents or adopting a child," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer.

On Wednesday, February 25th, Kentucky Equality Federation, Kentucky Fairness Alliance, Fairness Campaign, Lexington Fairness, Young Democrats (from counties across the Commonwealth), ACLU of Kentucky, Libertarian Party of Kentucky, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and many other allied organizations will gather in Frankfort for a day of lobbying, followed by a rally in the Capitol Rotunda beginning at 12:30 PM.

"Our children are not political pawns," stated Palmer. "This proposed legislation is a disgrace; the needs of the child should always be placed first."

Kentucky Equality Federation responded by posting an action alert on its Equality Center the day after the legislation was filed, but did not send a blast email to its members.

"We try to keep emails to a minimum, and truth is that this bill will have no problem passing the Kentucky Senate if Senate President David L. Williams decides to push it," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Northern Kentucky Regional Director, Nick Herweck. "As of this morning, over 575 people have signed our action alert which is emailed to Senate leadership."

Senate Bill 68 remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee (since February 9th) without action. Should Senate Bill 68 make it to the House of Representatives, Kentucky Equality Federation will take a more aggressive approach.

Monday, February 9, 2009


On National Freedom to Marry Day, February 12, 2009, same-sex couples across the Commonwealth will request marriage licenses for same-sex couples at local County Clerk's Offices to raise awareness of the harms and impact the inability to marry causes on their families.

Kentucky Organizers:

* Kentucky Equality Federation
* Marriage Equality Kentucky
* GLASS at Bellarmine University
* commonGround at University of Louisville

Co- Organizers (national):

* Marriage Equality USA
* Join the Impact

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Kentucky Equality President Jordan Palmer stated, "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."

"Whether we are married, domestic partnered, civil unioned or legal strangers under Kentucky law, all same-sex couples are denied the 1,138 federal rights of marriage," said Bellarmine University GLASS (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Society) President Kristina Thomas. "With the support of President Obama and with the growing sea change towards supporting protections for same-sex couples, we are hopeful that we can finally turn our attention to overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, and work together to uphold the American tradition of fairness and equality by ending marriage discrimination once and for all."

"Same-sex couples being denied marriage licenses will render visible the discrimination that is enforced every day. It is an affront to our basic dignity as fellow human beings when same-sex couples are turned away from the marriage counter, but it gives us the opportunity to tell our stories and show that we live in every community and want to honor and protect our families like everyone else," stated Marriage Equality Kentucky™ Treasurer Michael Hollingsworth. "Marriage discrimination is wrong and harms real-life families. All Americans deserve equal treatment under the law. The time has come."

"Kentucky Equality Federation and Marriage Equality Kentucky have partnered with the National Celebrant Foundation to perform 'commitment ceremonies' as well as marriage ceremonies in Kentucky," added Palmer. "Even if the Commonwealth will not currently recognize the relationship, they will be recognized in our community, by our life-partner, and in our hearts."

Kentucky Equality Federation began sponsoring a new grassroots group dedicated to overturning Kentucky's 2004 Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage and 'similar unions' last year, Marriage Equality Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Kentucky Equality Federation today announced additional outreach programs to target 'tomorrow's leaders.'

"In order to bring equality to our Commonwealth we must continue to recognize that people in middle school, high school, colleges, and universities will be instrumental to our success. In 2005, a young man names Nick Herweck became involved in Kentucky Equality Federation; he was 16 years old. Kentucky Equality Federation assisted him in setting up a gay-straight alliance at Boone County High School by threatening to sue school administration who had been successfully blocking its creation," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer."Today, Mr. Herweck is our Northern Kentucky Regional Coordinator, and sits on our Board of Directors."

Kentucky Equality Federation's Outreach Directors will focus on educating the public about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) issues within specific communities – providing information and sharing our message in specific ways, as well as contributing information regarding each community to our statewide organization. Outreach Directors will also reach out to members of the LGBTI community that too often have not been included, either in positions of leadership or in public education.

* William Anderson, University Outreach Director: Mr. Anderson is currently a student at the University of Kentucky pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance. He is very active in the music and theatre world, and played several leading roles in operas and musicals.

* Tara Morrison, Youth Outreach Director: A teenager herself, Ms. Morrison is passionate about giving Kentucky's LGBTI teenagers a voice in their community. Though she graduated high school in 2008, she is determined to see current and future students have a voice in their own communities, as well as support from their local school officials. While in high school, Ms. Morrison attempted to start a gay-straight alliance, but no teacher would sponsor the group.

Anderson and Morrison will be in contact with school administrations across the Commonwealth in addition to reaching out to any gay-straight alliances currently in place at each middle school, high school, college, and university.

Students and people across the Commonwealth already have the ability to report discrimination and school bullying to Kentucky Equality Federation from its online website, www.kyequality.org.

To launch its new outreach programs, Kentucky Equality Federation has taken the initial steps of ordering business cards, brochures, and pamphlets; in addition to setting up special groups for each outreach director to facilitate communication, cooperation, and support between the Commonwealth's students and educational institutions.

Palmer also noted that reaching out to specific communities was necessary and critical in order to overturn Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban. In a recent interview with change.org for Marriage Equality USA, Palmer stated, "No amount of money can replace volunteering, grassroots organizing, and the perseverance of an all - volunteer organization."