Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kentucky Equality Federation communicates with the U.S. Department of Justice about Harlan County Hate Crime

Harlan, KY -- Kentucky Equality Federation today has communicated with three (3) officials in the U.S. Department of Justice (the Lexington Herald-Leader has the story) about the hate crime and assault against a lesbian couple and their children in Southeastern Kentucky. (previous story)

The request for the U.S. Department of Justice to take-over the case was requested by the Chairman of the Board Richard T. Jones, President Jordan Palmer, and Assistant Southeastern Kentucky Regional Directors Will Taylor and Shannon McKinney. (view in .pdf) or (view in .xps)

The following was sent to the U.S. Department of Justice today; officials with the U.S. Department of Justice, namely Walter Atkinson, Robin Dull, and Bobbi Bernstein are investigating the case:

As you are aware, Kentucky Equality Federation received a hate crime complaint from the County of Harlan, a subdivision of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The victims in this complaint believe this to be a hate crime as outlined in our press release dated August 22, 2011 ( that you received a copy of and we have corresponded by email.

Though the Commonwealth has a hate crime law, which has been used in Judicial Circuits throughout the Commonwealth, we are not aware of it ever being used in Southern or Southeastern Kentucky.

Southeastern Kentucky communities are primarily rural communities with municipal populations less than 10,000 citizens. Kentucky Equality Federation and its legal representation have witnessed before the manner in which these courts operates because Judges as well as the County and Commonwealth’s Attorney are elected to office and not appointed by the Governor or Chief Justice of the Commonwealth. As such, the Judges, County and Commonwealth’s Attorney must keep the bulk of the population happy with their service to the Commonwealth or they risk not being re-elected to office and taking a stand to protect victims of hate crimes, especially members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex community is politically dangerous to them, thus, justice rarely prevails.

Kentucky Equality Federation was contacted by the victims of this case to act as their public advocate because they do not believe justice will prevail. In addition, the victims have reported they have already been informed of alleged ex parte meetings taking place in reference to this case in which the prosecutor was not involved or invited.

Kentucky Equality Federation, at the request of the victims hereby requests the United States Department of Justice move to this case to federal court where neither prosecutors nor Judges are elected to office. This case clearly falls within the hate crimes legislation signed by U.S. President Obama.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kentucky Equality Federation Condemns Violence against Lesbian Couple in Southeastern Kentucky

Harlan, KY -- Kentucky Equality Federation today condemned violence against a lesbian couple in Southeastern Kentucky. The incident injured one person as well as one of her children according to the plaintiff who contacted Kentucky Equality Federation for assistance to act as public advocate on their behalf. In addition, Otis Doan the attorney for the accused stated: “Do you promote this kind of life? You are a lesbian and live in Harlan County? You still have custody of your children being a lesbian?” These events statements were made in open court today before Kentucky District Judge Jeffrey J. Brock.

"Kentucky Equality Federation urges and requests that John D. Minton, Jr., Chief Justice of the Commonwealth intervene immediately in the name of justice," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "The personal bias of a defense attorney is not relevant in open court and we have seen before the Drumhead Court-Martial mentality of justice for LGBTI people in Southeastern Kentucky. In addition, Kentucky Equality Federation is referring this case to Walter Atkinson with the U.S. Department of Justice as a hate crime because of the terms "Dike," "Pu__y Licking W_ores," and "If you wanna look like a man, then fight like one," being used among others. The accused appear to have targeted the lesbian couple because of their sexual orientation, and though the Commonwealth has a hate crime law that includes sexual orientation we do not have a single case of the Commonwealth’s Hate Crimes Law against the LGBTI community actually being used in Southeastern Kentucky. As we have seen before the family of the accused was granted special permission to have family present in the court room but the family of the plaintiff’s were not according to reports filed and statements made to Kentucky Equality Federation.”

Richard T. Jones, Chairman of the Board for Kentucky Equality Federation stated: “We stand united with Misty Turner, her family, and the entire LGBTI community in Harlan County and across the Commonwealth. Violence is not acceptable, it will not be tolerated. I also call on the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth and have asked President Jordan Palmer to forward this case to our U.S. Department of Justice contacts because we do not have faith in Southeastern Kentucky Courts to implement the Commonwealth’s hate crime law.”

Two Assistant Southern Kentucky Regional Directors, Will Taylor and Shannon L. McKinney are gathering additional information about the case and providing support the Turner family.  Kentucky Equality Federation's Children of LGBTI Parents Outreach Director, Julia Oiler Spiegel will contact the family tomorrow.

Will Taylor, Kentucky Equality Federation's Assistant Regional Director for Southeastern Kentucky covering the counties of Bell, Harlan, Knott, Leslie, Letcher, and Perry stated: "With the exception of Hazard, Southeastern Kentucky is a hostile region for the LGBTI community as well as the Latino community. Kentucky Equality Federation is currently also defending the Latino Community after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided a Mexican restaurant in the City of Harlan; since that time Latino children are being bullied in schools. Many have protested, telling them to return to the United Mexican States. One child, in tears, stated: 'Where do I belong?'"

Related to the case in Harlan County, below is the report submitted to Kentucky Equality Federation (released with permission):

Subject: Hate Crime Report



Telephone: DELETED

Address: DELETED

County: Harlan

City: Pathfork

Appointment of Advocate: I hereby appoint Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates to act as my agent and official representative. All information submitted is truthful, and should it not be, I will personally indemnity Kentucky Equality Federation, its affiliates, Board members, Officers, and Volunteers.


Crime: I am a lesbian and have been with my partner for 5 1/2 years now. I have two small children, that we raise together as a family =) Accross the street from were we were parked, a party was going on and there was approx. 50+ people drinking and shooting fireworks. The crowd kept shooting fireworks in our direction, until one exploded near us, injuring my 2 children, several other family members, and my 80 yr old grandma. I addressed the crowd and told them to stop firing that they had hurt my children.. they proceeded to yell profanities at me including "We'll set everyone of the little Mother Fuckers on fire!" At this time my father walked toward the crowd, and in effort to stop him I went behind him, once I had got away from my car I was attacked by a woman saying she was gonna kill me.

At this time my partner tried to stop her, and we were attacked by at least 15 men. All yelling "If you wanna look like a man, then fight like one" We were also called lesbians, whores, "pussy licking whores" and dikes. No one else in our group was attacked but us. Then a gun was pulled and pointed at us and we were told "I'll kill your dike asses"... In the end, no shots were fired but my partner has suffered extensive contusions and at least one rib fracture, she is still undergoing treatment. I suffered from a closed head injury and intrasinus hemorrhage which is being treated now and damage is not yet determined. We were only able to identify 3 of the men involved. We pressed charges through the county attorney on July 5th. Today was our first appearance in court. A lawyer named Otis Doan is representing the other parties.. while testifying he questioned me about my lifestyle, he was very discrimating and ask me "do you promote this kind of life?" and made the comment "your a lesbian and live in Harlan county" then ask me if I still had "custody" of my children being a lesbian!!!

I was outraged but told him that it was called equality and I was not against any lifestyle. The judge did not stop his comments. One of the men was convicted to be sent to a grand jury for a felony, the other was dismissed, but we have to try and convict according to the county attorney. This has been a long process with a lot more to go. We need support for the gay community in this area. Otherwise, the court will use our sexuality against our case. PLEASE help us.. this was a hate crime and I believe the evidence should speak for itself. Thank you!! ~~

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kentucky Equality Federation Broadens Its Scope: Veterans, Political Minorities, and Others Will Benefit From Advocacy.

Frankfort, KY  --  Effective immediately Kentucky Equality Federation has updated its mission statement to include additional aspects of equality, as well as further defining its role in the future of equality and justice across the Commonwealth.

The new mission statement is as follows:

Kentucky Equality Federation believes all people are endowed with inalienable human rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment free from oppression, discrimination, school bullying, and hate crimes regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, creed, veteran status, political affiliation, or any other defining characteristic.

The end of discrimination is not simply the elimination of flagrant abuses, rather it is the ability of a person to fully exercise their Kentucky human rights to the same full extent enjoyed by their peers, without fear of retribution, aspersion, or harm, be that harm political or social.

We assist and act as public advocate for people who have been bullied, discriminated against, or victimized in addition to assisting them with legal remedies.

When the laws have not caught up to the moral needs of society, we will seek their modification, pursuant to the creation of a just society.

  • Bully-Free Schools across Kentucky
  • Gender-Neutral Marriage (marriage equality, in partnership with Marriage Equality Kentucky)
  • Equal Ballot-Access and Voting Rights
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Equality in Kentucky (the Kentucky lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex civil rights movement).  In addition, Kentucky Equality Federation will continue to be a voting member and representative of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ("ILGA") at the United Nations. 
  • Every other measure necessary to leave future generations with a legacy of justice and freedom.

Kentucky Equality Federation will remain ever vigilant against bureaucratic abuses of power, the evils of discriminatory legislation, and every other tool of oppressors, be they individuals, corporations, organizations, or governments.

We commit to the struggle for equal rights for all classes of people, groups, and organizations which share our values and call on all free and fair-minded people who share these values to join us in our common cause, and welcome all who share our commitment to justice and equality.

"Kentucky Equality Federation has been at the forefront of the continued civil rights struggle against racial, gender, sexual-orientation, and sexual-identity discrimination. Going forward, it will also work to protect veterans, political minorities, and other victims of discrimination," stated Josh Koch, Kentucky Equality Federation's Director of Public Relations and Media Director.

Koch continued: "This is a proud day for the Kentucky Equality Federation. In Hazard, we showed that equality advocacy can involve partnership with local governments to proactively implement plans to ensure the equal-access rights of all citizens of a community. Hazard has shown us that local communities can grow past unpleasant incidents and handle equality issues responsibly.

As a veteran, I have witnessed employment discrimination and other forms of discrimination against service members. In this election cycle, we are watching political independents and non-majority parties being arbitrarily excluded from the ballot and from elections. 'Taxation without representation' is the common, unifying grievance: No one should be excluded from the public forum by a defining characteristic, be that one's veteran status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. We all deserve equal protection under the law. This is the cornerstone of American Civilization."

Richard T. Jones, Chairman of the Board of Directors stated: "I am so very proud to be a part of this organization, I along with most of our volunteers, officers, interns, and Board members have waited in anticipation of this day. The entire Board has worked with President Jordan Palmer to make this change in our mission statement possible. I am so pleased to see the direction Kentucky Equality Federation is moving and the vision Mr. Palmer has for our great Commonwealth, it is a vision everyone at Kentucky Equality Federation shares."