Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kentucky Equality Federation, the City of Hazard, and Mending Hearts close the case on the incident involving two gay men forced to leave The Pavilion

After consulting Hazard Mayor Nan Gorman, City Manager Carlos Combs, and City Attorney Paul R. Collins, Kentucky Equality Federation is satisfied with the actions of the City of Hazard. No additional information will be released other than this press release.

"Today, after having additional conversations with the City of Hazard, our legal representation, and Hazard officials, we are satisfied with the actions of the City," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Kentucky Equality Federation was asked to intervene by Mending Hearts, Inc. to protect the interests of their clients. Mayor Nan Gorman, City Manager Carlos Combs, and City Attorney Paul R. Collins have stated that all people are welcome at The Pavilion, stating the facility 'is available for use without regard to race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, age, sexual orientation or physical/mental disability, etc.'

  • Kentucky Equality Federation requested 'gender identity' be added to the list of non-discrimination rules at The Pavilion which the City Attorney was receptive to. As a result, Kentucky Equality Federation plans no legal action and believes Hazard sets a positive example for all cities in both Southern Kentucky and the entire Commonwealth.

We have a very positive relationship with the highest levels of Hazard's government.

The employee who ejected Mending Hearts and their clients from The Pavilion was suspended for five (5) days and ordered to undergo some type of sensitivity training. In addition, the facility manager was reprimanded for 'conduct unbecoming a city employee,' and the City has ordered The Pavilion staff to 'undergo additional training regarding non-discrimination laws and regulations.'

An official apology has also been issued by the Mayor and City Attorney. After speaking to Mending Hearts owner Ollie Adams she is also very satisfied with the City's response as are the two gay men involved in the incident. Mending Hearts and the witnesses present however maintain that one of the men simply sat on the others knee."

Adams stated: "I want to thank everyone at Kentucky Equality Federation for standing up for our clients, both Mending Hearts and the two men involved are happy with this outcome."

Palmer continued, "We extend our thanks to City officials for acting in a responsible manner, and recognizing that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community of the Commonwealth are individuals also with human rights.

The LGBTI community are your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members, and the only thing we seek is equality and to be treated with the same dignity and respect as any other citizen.

As Kentuckians we cannot allow the actions of any one person nor any one group to undermine to progress we have made, and I pray that we continue to do so in a positive manner. After having additional conversations with City officials, I believe this will be the case.

As a community we must now practice restraint, we had a very successful protest/rally, and our voices did not fall on deaf ears; had this incident occurred in any other City in Southern Kentucky, we doubt we would have come to a final conclusion today, and we would most likely be preparing for a court battle. As a community, we must understand that there will always be someone who will oppose us and how Kentucky Equality Federation deals with them will depend on each unique situation."

Joshua Koch, Director of Public and Media Relations for Kentucky Equality Federation, also commented: "Kentucky Equality Federation urges restraint and grace by all parties. This is a battle won for the larger movement of equality, but we view both the City of Hazard and the victims as winners. The city wins by recognizing this need for development and swiftly adopting a proactive plan of remediation and prevention. The victims win by having their deserved apology and recognition that their experience has brought these issues to light. With this resolution, we recognize that we are not enemies moving forward.

We must recognize that this is a win for all parties, yet it is only a portion of the greater struggle for equality. While this is a moment to recognize the contributions of all parties, this is not a time for casting aside self-discipline in the form of a 'victory dance.' It would be counterproductive to attempt to monopolize The Pavilion for an LGBTI event in the wake of the resolution of this recent situation. Kentucky Equality Federation's role as a public advocate is to build bridges or speak for victims of hate crimes, school or workplace bullying.

Hazard has proven that it is devoted to equality, and the cause would be much better served by welcoming them rather than by opening the door to new incidents. We should celebrate the maturity and swiftness with which Kentucky Equality Federation and the City of Hazard resolved this issue with final negotiations ending today. Hazard's resolution is an example of how local governments should listen to their communities and protect the interests of all persons, resolving these issues correctly and promptly."

Kentucky Equality Federation Mental Health Outreach Director Kelly Gill, Children of LGBTI Parents Outreach Director Julia Oiler Spiegel, Southern Kentucky Regional Director Anderson Ruth, and Assistant Southern Kentucky Regional Directors Will Taylor and Shannon Shannon L. McKinney also called for restraint in order to continue to move forward in a positive manner noting that any 'pool dances' or other such action against the City would be counter-productive.

1 comment:

corporate gift baskets said...

This is clearly a gender discrimination. This should be stopped.