Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation and its member organizations welcome Robert Stivers as Senate President

Kentucky Equality Federation and its member organizations and groups welcome Senator Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) as the new Senate President.

"It is our hope and desire that we can work with President Stivers in addressing issues important to Kentucky citizens," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "This includes a statewide equality law, updating Kentucky's dating violence laws, and may other issues critical to Kentucky moving forward and taking its place again as a leader in the area of civil rights. Our member organizations, groups, and allies will also determine our legislative priorities with Kentucky Equality Federation's Legal Department as well as our Policy Department."

Senate District 25
District for the new Senate President
"The Board of Directors of the Kentucky Equality Federation would like to cordially welcome and congratulate Senator Robert Stivers in his election to the position of Senate President," stated Kentucky Equality Federation's Chairman of the Board, Brandon Combs. "We are excited by the prospect of forging ahead in addressing the Commonwealth's most crucial priorities with President Stivers. Senator Stivers, though conservative, has a record of being amenable to conversation. Accordingly, it is our sincerest hope that this change in leadership represents an opportunity for the Commonwealth to move forward in all facets, including equality, discrimination, and HIV/AIDS advocacy."

"On behalf of the Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Campaign I would like to personally welcome you to your new post as President of the Senate for the Commonwealth of Kentucky," stated Managing Director Gary Fowler, PsyD, CDC/ASPH Fellow. "The Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Campaign has had a long-standing positive relationship with the Senate since 2002, the date of the Campaign’s inception. I appreciate and applaud continual efforts to enhance quality and assurance of care for all Kentuckians suffering from HIV/AIDS. I welcome you again to your new post and I make myself available upon request."

"Marriage Equality Kentucky welcomes Robert Stivers as President of the Senate," stated Managing Director Mike T. Bowling. "It is our hope that we can at a minimum engage in dialogue for issues important to Marriage Equality Kentucky which also included domestic partnerships and civil unions."

The managing director of Kentucky Equal Ballot Access was not available for comment at press time.

Palmer continued:  "At the end of the day we are all citizens of this great Commonwealth, but its time for us to earn the word 'great' again. Since the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966, the Commonwealth has fallen behind in equal pay for Women, updating discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, updating dating violence laws, and ensuring people infected with HIV/AIDS have access to medications and care, just to name a few.

It is time the Commonwealth protect all of its citizens and we hope to work with the new Senate leadership to ensure this happens. We know we will agree to disagree on many things, but with healthy dialogue we can move forward. The fear, hared, and rejection of diversity, not to mention tolerance and acceptance attack the very foundation our Commonwealth and Union are built on."

ABOUT MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS: The sitting president of Kentucky Equality Federation is both the ceremonial head of Kentucky Equality Federation's member organizations and its ex officio president.  These organizations and groups include the Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group, Marriage Equality Kentucky, and Kentucky Equal Ballot Access. The same is true for the chairman of the board, treasurer, secretary of the corporation, and assistant secretary of the corporation. Kentucky Equality Federation’s Board of Directors supervise corporate governance under operating agreements for member organizations. A group of special government, non-profit, private citizens, and political advisers in addition to a Board of Regents consisting of additional experts 'supervise, consult and advise' the managing director and other management appointed by the managing director, responsible for day to day operations.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Religion and Politics in Kentucky Schools: Kentucky Equality Federation petitions the Government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Even after an apology and a reprimand, Kentucky Equality Federation’s Southern Kentucky Regional Management today condemned the actions of a Southern Kentucky educator. South Laurel High School teacher, Ms. Kendra Baker wrote on the top of her school board “You can’t be a Democrat & go to Heaven.” Kentucky Equality Federation is filing complaints with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Office of Secretary of Education, as well as every member of the House Standing Committee on Education on the inappropriate conduct of school officials in Clay, Grant, and Laurel Counties.

--> Legislation Proposed by Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer (.pdf)

“The School Superintendent reprimanded the Laurel County teacher, citing that she broke with policy regarding the environment of the classroom and we thank Superintendent Doug Bennett for his swift action,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. “Kentucky Equality Federation contends the objective of such a message was to scare children into thinking a certain ideology by damaging the thought process, scaring the Commonwealth’s youth, introducing partisan politics in the classroom, imposing one-sided views on the classroom and generally directing the students into confined thinking. Regardless of the origin of the statement, the teacher had the greater responsibility to remain objective.

Though I am a practicing Christian and Taoist, religion or partisan politics have no place in our classrooms as Kentucky Equality Federation stopped Bibles from being distributed in Grant County last week, which the Superintendent had approved.”

Kentucky Equality Federation’s Board members who represent the straight community were the most critical. Board member Miles Meehan stated: While we can celebrate political diversity, such statements only polarize and divide. Furthermore, any statement like what was written on the board has no place in a classroom - or even a church! - where a child or anyone else might feel slighted or like a second class citizen. It is my opinion that faith and politics are a nasty concoction. Hopefully Ms. Baker can learn from this mistake and her zeal can be refocused into uniting students and preparing them to become our future leaders.”

Board member Kristina Curry added: “The statement was not one to be made by someone teaching and shaping our young minds and future leaders of our Commonwealth. It wouldn't have been anymore right if she had posted it the opposite way.”

"Ms. Kendra Baker's actions during the election illustrate the divisiveness and polarization of American politics today," stated Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs. "It is my understanding that Ms. Baker is a Social Studies and Civics teacher, where discussing politics is typically acceptable. Once presented with this quote by a student, it should have immediately been disregarded as inappropriate for classroom discussion. Children should not be introduced to partisan politics or threatened with religious punishment while in the classroom. This lack of judgment is very concerning considering Ms. Baker is educating our future community leaders and work force."

Kentucky Equality Federation’s Religious Outreach Director, Minister Edith Baker, Ph.D., was outraged stating: “The statement nullifies the death of Jesus. The teacher condoned a statement that says being a registered Republican is what saves us, not Jesus, or faith in God, which as I stated in the Grant County incident last week, religion (and politics) should be taught at home. This 'teacher' is in dire need of learning. Where in this world or from what Bible did this woman garner this vital information?”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation stops Bibles from being distributed at a Northern Kentucky School District

Kentucky Equality Federation today objected to Bibles being given to middle school students in Grant County after being contacted by several parents.

Melissa Altman, one of the parents who agreed to speak publicly and has a child at the school stated: "My son was called out of his classroom and asked by men in business suits if they knew of the New Testament and were given Bibles. There is a time and place for this to occur, a public school is not [one of them]. I am a science major, I don't believe every parent would appreciate me passing out copies of the 'God Delusion' written by Richard Dawkins to their children."

In an email to the Grant County Schools Superintendent, Kentucky Equality Federation Jordan Palmer issued the following warning: "This directly violates Kentucky laws and Kentucky Supreme Court decisions regarding the separation of Church and State. These people came into a school owned and funded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky."

"In this situation, it is hard to gauge which occurrence is less acceptable; the allowance of Bibles to be passed out at a public school in violation of Kentucky law and past judicial precedent, or Superintendent Ron Livingood's disregard for these same laws," stated Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs. "Mr. Livingood has allowed for these individuals on school property to speak with students without proper authorization by parents and in violation of Kentucky law," Combs continued. "At this point, the Kentucky Department of Education needs to step forward and take action to ensure all Grant County students are receiving equitable, safe, and high quality education within the confines of our legal system or we will take legal action."

Kentucky Equality Federation's Religious Outreach Director, Minister Edith Baker, Ph.D. stated: "Here is the foundation of this matter; if Christians are 'allowed to pass out Bibles,’ then all other religion and non religious groups, including the 'Church of Satan' will have this right. As a Christian believer since childhood, and an ordained minister, I believe we have enough homes, churches and other public venues to provide this service.”

However, at press time, only minutes after emailing Grant Count Superintendent Ron Livingood, legal representation for Grant County Schools, Don Ruberg, with the Law Offices of O’Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent in Covington called Kentucky Equality Federation’s toll-free number indicating that the school had stopped, on the advice of counsel, the practice of allowing Bibles to be distributed on school property.

This is one of the School Districts that Kentucky Equality Federation has had enormous problems with in enforcing Kentucky school bullying laws.   

"On this one issue, we are all pleased that we could work together without the need for legal action," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Kentucky Equality Federation serves as public advocate for all citizens of the Commonwealth who suffer from discrimination, hate crimes, school bullying, or any other danger to our freedoms. As a practicing Christian, I agree with the comments made by our Religious Outreach Director, Kentucky Supreme Court rulings, and U.S. Supreme Court rulings. "

In a response to Kentucky Equality Federation, the parent responded: "Thank you so much for everything you do and standing up for everyone's rights, Altman stated. "You work fast I contacted the right person thank you so very much. Wow! I could never have gotten anything done myself, thank you."

Kentucky Equality Federation's Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall had no comment after the situation was diffused, nor did Kentucky Equality Federation's other attorneys.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation receives new Board members and Regional Management

BEREA, KY -- Kentucky Equality Federation Central Kentucky Regional Director Jeff Johnson (Louisville), appointed University of Kentucky student Peter Bostrom (Versailles) as an Assistant Central Kentucky Regional Director.

Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer "rubber stamped" the appointment after Mr. Bostrom had a meeting with Board Chairman Brandon Combs and extensive conversations with Central Kentucky Regional Director Jeff Johnson.

"To me the Kentucky Equality Federation is a way to channel my interest in gay rights into productivity," stated Bostrom. "It will allow me to make a difference in people's lives who have been discriminated against or persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. To me equality means that people are not discriminated against or treated differently because of factors that they cannot control, like race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Unfortunately at both the state and federal level there is no recognition of sexual orientation in civil rights laws and I am a strong advocate of changing this."

"I give Regional Directors have the authority to appoint their own support personnel without my approval to assist them in serving the Commonwealth and the region they are appointed," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Kentucky Equality Federation shifts as much decision making authority as legal and practical to regional directors and outreach directors. Regional Directors have the authority to appoint assistants, community organizers, awareness representatives, and other support volunteer. The addition of Mr. Bostrom ads to our presence in Central Kentucky in additional to our presence across the Commonwealth."

The Board of Directors also added Kristina Curry (Lexington) and Miles Meehan (Lexington). The addition of Miles Meehan and Kristina Curry to the Board of Directors came at the recommendation of Chairman Brandon Combs (Berea).

One Board member (Hazard) abstained from voting on either of the new Board members.

If Membership raises no objections to the addition of a Board member they are consider conformed.

"It is truly a proud moment that we are able to add additional diversity to our Board of Directors," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Board Chairman Brandon Combs. "Both Ms. Curry and Mr. Meehan represent our female and straight ally constituents, respectively. This diversity coupled with their personal experiences, beliefs, and ideas make both of them welcome to our Board. Their addition demonstrates the Board's commitment to accepting multiple perspectives and ideas in the fight for equality throughout our Commonwealth."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Kevin Pennington Hate Crime Trial Official Statement

Kentucky Equality
Federation Vice President
of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall
As a public advocate service, Kentucky Equality Federation brings hate and related crimes against minority groups, including the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and intersex community, to the attention of the county attorney, commonwealth's attorney, or U.S. attorney as appropriate. Kentucky Equality Federation serves the victim in all things, including, but not limited to Kentucky Equality Federation controlling media access to the victim, making legal and mental resources available, and preparing the victim for court.

Once a trial begins, it is up to the prosecutors to make their case for justice.

Rose Law Office
Jill Hall Rose, Kentucky
Equality Federation Legal
"The acquittal of these individuals from the hate crime aspect of this case is truly a disappointment," stated Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs. "This is a failing by prosecutors to make their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but this should serve as a rallying point around which the LGBTI community can gather and we thank the U.S. Department of Justice for responding to our request to prosecute this case. If there is any positive to take away from this ruling, it is that Mr. Pennington did receive some measure of justice, albeit not what he deserved."

"I think it is important that the U.S. attorney took this case to send a message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated," stated Attorney Jill Hall Rose, Kentucky Equality Federation’s legal representation. "The enormous burden of proof, especially in such a high profile case is on the government and the jury found some reasonable doubt as to the hate crime statute despite the compelling testimony given. This is not a setback, the fact that Kentucky Equality Federation successfully lobbied the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute this case and that U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey ordered it to be prosecuted says a lot about Kentucky and the United States; hate motivated crimes will not be tolerated. U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey has effectively put Kentucky 'on notice.' I admire Jordan Palmer for sticking up for people and the important work everyone that Kentucky Equality Federation does because they are all volunteers, none of them are paid."

Kentucky Equality Federation’s Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall agreed.

"I do continue to believe this was a hate crime," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Beating someone, or trying to kill them, all the time shouting anti-gay slurs..... if that isn't a hate crime, I'm not sure the jury completely understood the definition of the law. I agree with our attorneys that this was not a setback, though this is not the verdict we wanted, they still face life in prison. Tomorrow someone may be arrested for a hate crime that results in a conviction, each case is unique. Though the defense was ultimately unsuccessful in getting the law declared unconstitutional, the defense was successful in arguing about low IQ's, drug addition, sexual attraction, etc. This does not negate the inescapable conclusion however that yelling anti-gay slurs while assaulting someone is by definition a hate crime, just as it would be (by definition) had they yelled defamatory terms about any other protected class while attempting to murder them. The assertion that one of the people who assaulted Kevin Pennington has an IQ of 75 and unable to plan the assault, but can apparently participate in it is repugnant."

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled that Congress stretched their authority to just being below 'beyond Congressional authority,' with the federal hate crime statute.

"We also take offense for the inflammatory comment from the defense that U.S. President Obama and the federal government bow to special interest groups," stated Southeastern Kentucky Regional Director Will Taylor. "Kentucky Equality Federation is not a 'special interest group,' we seek equality and justice under law, nothing more, nothing less. U.S. President Obama knows this, Kentucky Governor Beshear knows this (with his executive order protecting LGBTI people from discrimination in Kentucky government), and U.S. Attorney Harvey knows this. The defense suggesting that Kevin Pennington was doing all of this for media attention in addition to bringing the U.S. president into the argument whom the defense said 'is unpopular in Kentucky and lost badly here four years ago,' is to me us both shocking and revolting, but the jury apparently bought some of the argument."

Palmer concluded: "We heard about the assault on Kevin Pennington the day after it happened from a member of his family. We do not seek out victims, they must be ready and willing to contact us (and feel safe and comfortable in doing so). Though I find the jury's reasoning questionable given the anti-gay testimony in regards to the hate crime, this is our judicial system and we must live with the verdict. Any additional questions should be directed to our Legal Team at (859) 263-3560, or (877) KEF-5775 – Ext. 5."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lawsuit Filed Against Warren County Regional Jail - Gay Assault/Hate Crime

Kentucky Equality Federation today confirmed that a lawsuit and demand for jury trial had been filed on behalf of Brandon Milam who was assaulted in the Warren County Regional Jail.  (previous press release)

The attached lawsuit will be served by Monday, October 15, 2012. (view)

On September 20, 2012 a conference call between Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, the victim, Brandon Milam, and attorneys at the Rose Law Offices took place to finalize details. The Rose Law Offices asked Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers to join them in the lawsuit.  Another meeting took place to finalize details in Lexington.

The victim's father contacted Kentucky Equality Federation for assistance immediately after the assault with Brandon Milam making contact immediately after he was released to serve as his public advocate. After being unable to reach a settlement with the Warren County Jailer, Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer began working with the Rose Law Office, joined by Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers after in-house attorney and Vice President of Legal Jillian Hall warned the jail they stood "substantial civil liability."

Kentucky Equality Federation remains the public advocate for Mr. Milam, all media inquiries must be directed to Kentucky Equality Federation at (877) KEF-5775 – Ext. 5. Media may not contact the victim; the lawsuit was filed by Kentucky Equality Federation’s outside legal representation and the personal legal representation of Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, the Rose Law Offices, joined by Mehr Fairbanks Trial Lawyers.

Kentucky Equality Federation Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall, President Jordan Palmer, and Regional Director Jeff Johnson have maintained contact with Brandon Milam and his father since the assault occurred.

"We take these things seriously, and had the Warren County Regional Jail or officials from the Commonwealth responded to our demands this lawsuit may not have been necessary. The lawsuit speaks for itself, jails have a responsibility to protect their inmates, this could have been anyone's child, mother, father, cousin, etc. arrested in error, or something later dismissed by a judge. While in the custody of a jail the protection of inmates are without question the responsibility of the County and the Commonwealth.  Jailers cannot have a dismissive disregard for their protection by simply dismissing jail violence, it is after all a jail, not a prison." said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer and Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall in a joint statement.

This brutal attack against Mr. Milam has also been reported to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation as a hate crime.

The Warren County Regional Jail is being sued for:

  1. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Outrageous Conduct 
  2. Jailer's Breach of Duty and Negligence under KRS 71.020 et seq. 
  3. Negligence 
  4. Common Law Bad Faith and Breach of Fiduciary Duty 
  5. Negligent Supervision and Negligent Hiring 

Again, we refer you to our previous press release about Mr. Milam:

The story was also covered in detail by the Daily News in Bowling Green:

As defined:
Jail: A holding place for persons awaiting trial to whom bail is not granted or awaiting arraignment.
Prison: A place for persons sentenced after conviction or any place of confinement or involuntary restraint.

Brandon Milam is now under a Stage I Media Blackout, the highest issued by Kentucky Equality Federation, meaning he will not speak to any reporter without the expressed permission of Kentucky Equality Federation.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation hails the new United Nations publication, Born Free and Equal, and the obligations of States to end discrimination

The head of the United Nations
LEXINGTON, KY -- The United Nations Human Rights Office has released a new publication, Born Free and Equal (download), which outlines core legal obligations that countries have for their LGBT people. The guide is built around five core expectations: protect people from homophobic violence, prevent torture, decriminalize homosexuality, prohibit discrimination, and safeguard LGBT people’s freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

“What we are witnessing it the issue of LGBTI equality finally being placed front and center on the world stage,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. “We at Kentucky Equality Federation, a voting member of ILGA at the United Nations applaud the leadership of Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, the head of the United Nations.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon stated: “To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, let me say — you are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you, is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to uphold. Today, I stand with you and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you too. A historic shift is under way — more states see the gravity of the problem….We must tackle the violence, decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships, end discrimination and educate the public.” (watch)

The full list includes many policies that most States in the United States does not have in place:

  • Protect people from homophobic and transphobia violence.
  • Include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in hate crime laws.
  • Establish effective systems to record and report hate-motivated acts of violence.
  • Ensure effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and redress for victims of such violence.
  • Asylum laws and policies should recognize that persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be a valid basis for an asylum claim.
  • Prevent the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons in detention by prohibiting and punishing such acts and ensuring that victims are provided with redress.
  • Investigate all acts of mistreatment by State agents and bring those responsible to justice.
  • Provide appropriate training to law enforcement officers and ensure effective monitoring of places of detention.
  • Repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, including all laws that prohibit private sexual conduct between consenting adults of the same sex.
  • Ensure that individuals are not arrested or detained on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and are not subjected to baseless and degrading physical examinations intended to determine their sexual orientation.
  • Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Enact comprehensive laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination. In particular, ensure non-discriminatory access to basic services, including in the context of employment and health care.
  • Provide education and training to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT and intersex people.
  • Safeguard freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBT and intersex people. Any limitations on these rights must be compatible with international law and must not be discriminatory.
  • Protect individuals who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom of assembly from acts of violence and intimidation by private parties.

Last December, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a report about the extensive rates of LGBT persecution across the globe.

United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon has called for an end to this discrimination. (previous press release)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gay Hate Crime at the Warren County Regional Jail - Nose Partially Bitten Off

Kentucky Equality Federation today condemned the unprovoked attack on an openly gay male while in the custody of the Warren County Jail. The incident was reported to Kentucky Equality Federation’s Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee. Kentucky Equality Federation has tried to reach an agreement with the County Attorney, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Warren County Jailer to no avail.

The Warren County Jailer insists the Kentucky Department of Corrections is responsible for what happened to the victim despite the fact that he was under the protective custody of the Warren County Jailer, given that he was technically a ward of the Commonwealth, not the County.

Nevertheless, his safety and protection were the absolute responsibility of the Warren County Jailer and staff, despite what it read on his paperwork.

The victim, Brandon Milam stated: "I was an inmate in the Warren County Regional Jail in the Protective Custody cell. Other inmates made it well known that they did not approve that I was gay. I remember hearing my nose getting ripped off my face and seeing him spit it on the floor. They all 4 started in yelling "Kill the Faggot" and "Beat that lil’ Ho Fag." I was also called queer several times. I was in jail for a probation violation over a shoplifting charge. I wasn't a flight risk and I had no violent history. My nose was basically bitten off, they attached my nose and told me that there was only a 1% chance that the tissue was going to live and that there would more than likely going to be numerous reconstructive surgeries which I cannot afford. Because of the holiday, I could not immediately go before the Judge to be placed on house arrest so I was returned to the jail. One violent inmate put a bounty on me for anyone to jump me. Later I was placed released and placed on house arrest. The jail canceled my follow-up appointments to reconstruct my nose and has refused to release my records to me."

"The deliberate indifference that the jail facility seemed to maintain when placing Mr. Milam in the cell with the attackers while being aware of his sexual orientation opens them to civil liability," stated Attorney Jillian Hall, Kentucky Equality Federation’s Vice President of Legal. "While being homosexual in and of itself does not necessarily warrant special treatment while incarcerated, recklessly ignoring this fact and placing a vulnerable inmate with others who are likely to commit a violent act such as this meets the legal standard and opens the facility, on-duty guards, and jailer to civil action. The commonwealth must pay his medical expenses as required by KRS 441.045(5) in addition to case law such as Veney v. Wyche which found that 'Segregation of male homosexual inmates was justified by legitimate penological interests in prison safety and security.'"

Hall continued: "Federal facilities are required to follow the Prison Rape Elimination Act."

"Because of the lack of response by jail officials and the county, I have instructed Kentucky Equality Federation’s in-house attorney, Jillian Hall, to file complaints with the Kentucky Department of Law and appropriate federal enforcement agencies," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "Regardless of the charge, inmates have rights and it is presumed that people will be safe in jail, especially when the accused has not committed a violent offense and is placed in arms reach of violent people. We demand that the commonwealth pay his medical expenses, including reconstructive surgery to his partially bitten off nose. Kentucky Equality Federation anticipates a swift monetary settlement in this case, and we demand the Warren County Commonwealth's Attorney charge those who assaulted Mr. Milam and use Kentucky’s Hate Crime law, a post conviction elevator, which includes sexual orientation."

Palmer continued: "Having an uncaring attitude towards LGBTI inmates, as well as their fundamental human rights and dignity, appears to be a growing trend across the Commonwealth’s County Jailers, we have documented complaints against the Kentucky State Police, the Madison County Jail, the Three Rivers Regional Jail (Hazard), and now Warren County. In our system of government, we presume innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. No jail in the Commonwealth would place a neo-Nazi in the same cell with a person of Jewish descent or a Black person. Steps must be taken to protect LGBTI inmates from violence, especially when they are already being called derogatory names such as queer and faggot. This case reaches beyond what happened to Mr. Milam; since anyone can swear a warrant for your arrest this could happen to any LGBTI community member or any other minority group, regardless of substantial evidence or even guilt."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Response to the Republican National Convention’s new Platform

Lexington, KY - Kentucky Equality Federation condemns the new political platform outlined at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. "The new platform towards gay marriage and a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage further removes and alienates the LGBTI community as well as equality minded people from the Republican Party," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. (related news on presidential transfer again at Kentucky Equality Federation)

"The only thing I have to say to them as far as passing a federal constitutional amendment is 'good luck.' If a constitutional amendment needs to be made to the U.S. Constitution, it should be to limit the amount of money corporations can contribute to campaigns, and limit the amount of money that can be spent on campaigning in each state. The corruption of Congress has been well documented in recent weeks by 60 Minutes, and 20/20."

Palmer continued: "Paid corporate lobbyists are effectively buying our federal representation. The federal government needs to be downsized and placed back in-check to its original charter by the several states.

By even mentioning a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, Republicans infringe not only on the sovereignty of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as well as the states of Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont but they are also attempting to force their own political agendas against the will of the citizens in those states.

This is the party of war. It has declared war on state sovereignty. It has declared war on voters which dissent from the Romney ticket by eliminating their delegates' right to be at the convention. It has now declared war on America's basic sense of justice and the most basic human rights of the LGBTI community. This has turned into a war of subjection and extermination, approaching the boldness of Hitler before his 'Final Solution.'

It is historical irony that the party created to end slavery, recognize a repressed people, and grant them the full civil rights due to them has lowered themselves to these levels. The LGBTI community continues to suffer and we are sick of our dignity and personhood constantly being trampled on. We have a right to exist, we have a fight to equality, we have a right to marry the person we love.

The tactics of the Republican National Convention remind me of the tactics used by former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, who rescinded an executive order placed by Governor Paul Patton to protect LGBTI people in Kentucky’s Government (Fletcher rescinded the order on Diversity Day, leading to Kentucky Equality Federation holding a rally outside the Governor’s Mansion during the Governor’s Annual Derby Celebration). Former Governor Fletcher, like the Republican National Convention, is also attempting to appease the very conservative right-wing hoping to garner additional votes and support. It backfired on Fletcher as it will backfire on the Republican National Convention.

On both a federal and state level, this further illustrates the need for a third political party. If the Republican Party cannot move past the LGBTI civil rights issue, it will be its undoing. In many states, including Kentucky, we have mobilization of the Green Party and the Modern Whig Party.

During the Republican National Convention, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell spoke about creating jobs. The creation of jobs is also the responsibility of the Governor and his cabinet secretaries. What, Governor McDonnell have you done to bring jobs to the Commonwealth of Virginia? Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has made several trips to several nations and opened Kentucky World Trade Center Offices to bring businesses from those nations to Kentucky in addition to meeting with their heads of state and government.

We are sick of being disenfranchised. We are going to exercise our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are our rights, not privileges you grant and take away. History is on our side, and we will not quietly let you exterminate and oppress us."

PUBLIC NOTICE: As required by the Bylaws of Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates, the non-executive Chairman of the Board, Brandon Combs "consulted and advised" the Office of the President on this press release.

University of Kentucky's President congratulates Kentucky Equality Federation's new Board Chairman, Brandon Combs

The University of Kentucky's President, Dr. Eli Capilouto congratulates Brandon Combs for being named Chairman of the Board of Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates. (view)

The story was also covered by Kathy Johnson with UK Now, the University of Kentucky's official newspaper.

Stated University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto:
Congratulations on being recently elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Equality Federation. This is an important statewide organization that advances an agenda of equality and advocacy for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. 
Your selection is a clear example of the respect you've earned and the skills you posses to properly serve this organization and its mission.  Your leadership with the Kentucky Equality Federation and the UK Police Department brings great pride to the UK family.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Boycott and Public Interest Advisory to Kentucky Universities – Kentucky Equality Federation defends the University of Louisville

The recent statements by Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-Fil-A, regarding equal marriage rights have sparked outrage from the Kentucky Equality Federation, as well as Marriage Equality Kentucky. Protests and boycotts by individuals and groups throughout the Commonwealth have shown that this is not just a national but also a local issue for supporters of equality in Kentucky.

Chick-Fil-A has exercised its right as a privately held company to openly support homophobic causes and organizations. However, the company has taken this one step further and insulted the public with its recent deceptions and misinformation given to cover up the recent severance of its relationship with Jim Henson’s entertainment enterprise known as “The Muppets.”

“Chick-Fil-A has every right to do business and spend profits as it sees fit,” said Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch. “We are offended that they continue to oppose equality, but this has been an ongoing issue. Their new campaign of slander against the safety of toys is a new twist, but it is not surprising.

“However, these recent statements have shed additional light on the fact that public universities in Kentucky are using student money to support and foster Chick-Fil-A, a company which has financially supported anti-equality in the LGBTI community. We have confirmed franchises exist at University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and Eastern Kentucky University. Some of these franchises are run under the auspices of Aramark and Sodexo; however the money still goes to support Chick-Fil-A and subsequently their discriminatory agendas.

“Kentucky universities have a commendable history of supporting equality. We are advising them that they are financially supporting an anti-equality for-profit corporation by allowing Chick-Fil-A franchises to do business on campus, and we request that they re-evaluate those franchises for rebranding.” “We are not opposing rights to free speech, association, or religious beliefs,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation Legal Director Jillian Hall, Attorney-at-Law. “However, Chick-Fil-A is directly using profits derived from customers as a tool for opposing equality by donating to organizations that are actively fighting LGBTI equality. The decision to eat at this establishment is a very personal one, but this is not a passive issue – just because a chicken sandwich is the middle-man doesn’t mean you aren’t directly funding the anti-equality movement each and every time you walk up to that counter.”

The Kentucky Equality Federation board also made statements on the nature of the situation.

“Mr. Cathy and Chick-Fil-A have taken a position against marriage equality that is both discriminatory and highly politically divisive,” said Kentucky Equality Federation Board Chairman Brandon Combs. “All individuals and organizations who believe in marriage and civil equality should avoid Chick-Fil-A, as their money will go directly to funding organizations actively working against that ideal. I also call all public universities to follow the path of the University of Louisville, and closely examine the franchise contracts with Chick-Fil-A.”

“The position of Chick-Fil-A is appalling; a restaurant chain is openly opposing equality for all people and using their restaurants to carry that message,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation founder and board member Jordan Palmer. “In the end, the decision to eat or not eat at Chick-Fil-shall be a question of conscience by every citizen; I will certainly never eat at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant.”

University of Louisville comes under attack because of Chick-Fil-A position:

It should be noted that certain radical right-wing groups who oppose equality have made inflammatory statements regarding the expansion of the ongoing Chick-Fil-A boycott. Several have compared this to tyranny, demolition of free speech, and totalitarianism. We take a moment to remind the anti-equality forces of their hypocrisy.

These are a few of the companies so-called pro-family organizations have boycotted and abused for supporting political causes, providing equal employee benefits, or some other supposed offense against morality: Hallmark Cards, McDonald’s, Ford Motor Company, American Girl, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pepsi, Target, Calvin Klein, Kraft Foods, Domino’s Pizza, Campbell Soup, Clorox, Comcast, Mary Kay, Walt Disney, Tide, and S.C. Johnson & Co. This is just a small fraction of companies that have been bullied by various “family” organizations, which are now pretending that boycotts by the pro-equality community are an illegitimate form of protest.

Here in Kentucky, we have seen the temper tantrums flare up from the raging enemies of equality. The Family Foundation of Kentucky and the American Family Association of Kentucky have attacked the University of Louisville, even insinuating that the university should no longer receive aid if it reviews its contract relationship with Chick-Fil-A. In 2007, The Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky sent unsolicited spam email to the University of Kentucky while they considered domestic-partner benefits.

We condemn this juvenile conduct, and we remind Kentucky that our universities are our first line of vocational and educational defense in this recession. Injuring our higher education system over a restaurant franchise would devastate Kentucky’s future. Kentucky Equality Federation proudly stands for a strong Kentucky, whatever University of Louisville decides.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catastrophic Bullying Compliance issues in Kentucky – School Districts have no knowledge of existing Kentucky laws – The Kentucky Department of Education is to blame

The Kentucky Equality Federation is appalled at the lack of administrative education provided by the Kentucky Department of Education on bullying-related topics.

In Clay, Grayson, Jefferson, Kenton, Lincoln, Pulaski, Whitley, and several other counties, we have received alarming reports from guidance counselors, principals, and other school district staff that they have received no briefings or information about complying with years-old Kentucky regulations regarding bullying in public schools. This lack of information is leading to a lack of enforcement of laws that are already in effect.

"These laws were written to protect students," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch. "We hear cries for more legislation from the public, but we know there are laws in effect already. This is an insult to the visionary legislators who have already passed excellent laws to protect Kentucky's children.

“When we confront these local school districts about their lack of enforcement, we are finding an epidemic of knowledge," Koch said. "These districts don't even know Kentucky has these laws. We have laws and continuing education requirements for a reason. They are there to allow and encourage administrative communication, but that only works when the Department of Education understands the law and communicates it to the 120 counties and their school districts. The Kentucky Department of Education should have ensured all school districts in Kentucky enforced existing school bullying laws when the legislation was passed and especially after the first suicide.

"It does no good to lobby for new school bullying legislation when principals and guidance counselors are not ever aware of existing laws. Frankfort can pass new laws indefinitely, but without enforcement and education regarding Kentucky’s existing laws, adding additional laws to the books if futile. Our law has received an A++ rating by a national bullying watchdog group, something we made public and the Family Foundation of Kentucky used to stop new legislation this year. The problem is not a lack of applicable laws. The fundamental crisis is that no one in the education administration in Kentucky seems to know laws exist to confront school bullying. This is a tragedy that is costing lives and damage, and it has already been addressed in detail by the legislature. There is simply no excuse for this negligence. Under existing Kentucky law, all school bullying must be submitted in writing to the principal who must then forward the complaints to the County Attorney for investigation. One County Attorney in Southern Kentucky informed us that so many new laws are passed each year, they struggle to keep-up."

"In recent years, bullying in schools has gotten out of control," stated Attorney Jillian Hall, Kentucky Equality Foundation’s Legal Director. "The legislature has done their part by enacting laws to protect the students, now the Department of Education must accept responsibility and educate teachers and staff on how to put these laws into practice and protect the victims of this behavior. Kentucky Equality Federation is ready to take legal action to ensure this happens. Most of the parents involved want the school districts and the Commonwealth to be sued for damages. However, Kentucky Equality Federation would rather have the cooperation of the Kentucky Department of Education in educating school districts in all 120 Kentucky counties."

Kentucky Equality Federation requests assistance from the Kentucky Department of Education in informing school districts in the Commonwealth about the applicable sections of KRS, especially sections 158 and 525, and any other statutory or administrative laws applicable to anti-bullying reporting and enforcement. The Department of Education has a responsibility to make school districts aware of their duties and authority to confront this problem. Kentucky Equality Federation has started this process in most Eastern, Northern, Southern, Southeastern, and Western Kentucky school districts. Clay and Grayson counties are perhaps the worst; one superintendent closed a meeting when a parent wanted to discuss school bulling after the superintendent received a warning from Kentucky Equality Federation, another completely refused to cooperate though the principals wanted the information and a school bullying impact presentation from Kentucky Equality Federation.

"It is irresponsible of Kentucky's Department of Education to not empower their administrators and instructors with the knowledge and processes affiliated with in-school harassment or bullying,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs. “This same information should also be extended to parents as out-of-school bullying, or harassment, is a criminal offense in the commonwealth of Kentucky. What's worse is the administrative regulation regarding harassment in school has been on the books and available for enforcement for years. This is not an issue where the Department of Education has lacked sufficient time to pass along the information to its personnel. Only when administrators, teachers, and parents are armed with the knowledge and empowered to act will the issue of school bullying in Kentucky finally be put to rest."

This has been an ongoing issue. Kentucky Equality Federation’s former president, Jordan Palmer, publicly warned three school districts about their non-compliance with the law in March (

Kentucky Equality Federation founder and board member Jordan Palmer, still on the mend, stated: "Kentucky Equality Federation reiterates that it seeks the assistance of the Department of Education and Kentucky Secretary of Education Joseph U. Meyer in making presentations to these schools and educating the student body for the coming school year. Though additional legislation may be needed to protect youth and prevent suicides, until we discover and resolve the government communications breakdown with existing legislation, we cannot endorse new legislation that could fall by the wayside as "The Golden Rule Act of 1998" has."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Brandon Combs Named Board Chair of Kentucky Equality Federation

By: Kathy Johnson

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 20, 2012) ― Brandon Combs, telecommunications supervisor for the University of Kentucky Police Department, has been named chairman of the board of the Kentucky Equality Federation, Kentucky’s largest all-volunteer grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) civil rights and advocacy organization for both social and political equality.

"Working in advocacy, especially in the LGBTI community, has been a consideration of mine for many years," Combs said. "The Kentucky Equality Federation Board of Directors was a perfect fit, as it combines a strong advocacy voice and goal of equality in all aspects within the Commonwealth.”

Combs is one of 10 members who serve on the board, and was elected chairman by his fellow members.

"I have personally welcomed Mr. Combs to the organization," said Jordan Palmer, immediate past president and founder of the organization. "I believe he will provide the leadership needed in my absence and beyond."

The current president, Joshua Koch, welcomed the new board members saying, "We are constantly moving forward, and this election is vital to shaping our strategy going forward. This team's recent sacrifices and capacity to seize the initiative portends great things for Kentucky Equality Federation and the Kentucky equality movement."

Read more:

Subscribe to

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation responds to community assaults in Louisville

Screen Capture from Wave3 News
Kentucky Equality Federation, a statewide organization whose former president, Jordan Palmer, successfully lobbied the federal government into prosecuting the first federal hate crime in U.S. history, condemns the violent attack on several youths on Taylor Boulevard in Louisville, KY.

Kentucky Equality Federation has made contact with both families to offer mental health services, legal services, or spiritual services after the attack.

These assaults represent the root of the equality fight in Kentucky. This assault, if motivated by the victim's sexuality as determined by police, would be classified as a hate crime and should be treated as such," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs. "Those who perpetrate crimes of hate will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The LGBTI community should be free of persecution based upon their sexual orientation or identity. The Kentucky Equality Federation and its allies continue to work tirelessly towards this goal in the Commonwealth."

"Obviously the people who did this have no fear of being prosecuted. We urge the Louisville Metro Police Department to throw every resource into finding those responsible, it is impossible to believe no forensic evidence was left at the scene of the crime. We will be monitoring the progress of this case closely. It is important to remember that discrimination does not always come in the form of employment, housing or public accommodation, it too often takes the form of a violent attack on a child, teenager, or adult. The Kentucky Equality Federation will continue to be a resource for all individuals across the Bluegrass who are discriminated against, bullied or otherwise mistreated due to their LGBTI status," stated Louisville based Kentucky Equality Federation Regional Director Jeff Johnson.

Kentucky Equality Federation acts as public advocate for Kentucky's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex population. Because of the Commonwealth's budget cuts, most Commonwealth's Attorneys and County Attorneys in Kentucky no longer have public advocates. Even if they do, Kentucky Equality Federation’s Public Advocate Service acts as public advocate and spokesperson for Kentucky's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex citizens who have been discriminated against, bullied at educational or work facilities, or suffered a hate crime as define by the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky or the United States of America.

"We are shocked and appalled that these attacks continue. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. It is unthinkable that adults would randomly and violently attack LGBTI youths who bothered no one. We must aid these families in healing and in obtaining justice," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch.

"The physical pain of such an assault is only the beginning of the pain, usually followed by the loss of a feeling of safety and security," stated Louisville based Assistant Central Kentucky Regional Director Darren Morgen. "In this case additional psychological pain must be dealt with because the assault was motivated by hate based on her natural sexual disposition. These crimes must be aggressively pursed to ensure others do not fall victim."

The full resources of Kentucky Equality Federation are available to the teenagers involved.

In addition to the two (2) Southeastern Kentucky hate crime cases, Kentucky Equality Federation is also engaged in one (1) hate crime in Eastern Kentucky and two (2) in Western Kentucky.

Video:  Wave3 News

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation welcomes new Board leadership and attorney Jillian Hall

Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch extends a welcome to Kentucky Equality Federation's new Board members, in addition to new Board leadership.

President Koch also welcomed attorney Jillian Hall as Kentucky Equality Federation's Legal Director and its Allies Community Outreach Director.

"We are absolutely excited at the new group of leaders who have risen to the challenge," Koch said. "We are constantly moving forward, and this election is vital to shaping our strategy going forward. This team's recent sacrifices and capacity to seize the initiative portends great things for Kentucky Equality Federation and the Kentucky equality movement."

This brings Kentucky Equality Federation's total Board members to its maximum of ten (10) per new Bylaws approved by the official membership.

New Board members and Board leadership include:

  • Brandon Combs, M.S., Chairman of the Board (Telecommunications Supervisor for the University of Kentucky Police Department)
  • Gary Fowler, Psy.D., Vice Chairman of the Board (former chair of the Governor’s HIV/AIDS Planning Committee, the Kentucky Advocate and a Board member for the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), and the former president of the Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Action Group, a Kentucky Equality Federation member organization)
  • Fran Everage, Secretary of the Corporation
  • Dean Byrd, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Corporation
  • Minister Edith Baker, Ph.D.
  • Jody Gregory
  • Dale Cochran

All previous Board members remain part of the Board of Directors per Kentucky Equality Federation's rotating Board election schedule, including founder Jordan Palmer.

Kentucky Equality Federation's Interim Committee for Official Membership did retire several Board members prior to new elections being held. Official membership typically meets once a year to elect the Board of Directors and the President. Between these times the interim committee handles most items with unlimited authority.

The Board elects its own non-executive Chair (sometimes legally referred to as the Board President), Treasurer, Secretary of the Corporation, and other Board leadership.

Administration consists of the president, officers appointed by the president, all regional directors, outreach directors, and all other volunteers and interns appointed by the president as the chief executive officer of Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates.

Former Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer, the Board of Directors, and Membership made sweeping changes several years ago to get Board members out of day-to-day operations and make the Board an oversight and legislative body for Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates. This included extensive changes to Bylaws which only official membership or the Interim Committee for Official Membership may change.

At the time, former Chairman Richard T. Jones and Secretary Dean Byrd also called the changes necessary.

Former President Jordan Palmer called the changes "a must" to make the Board of Directors "a truly independent and oversight board; management can justify any action so long as management also makes the sum of board members. Without an independent body supervising management, management has complete authority to run amok without answering to anyone. Without an independent Board you effectively have a "clique," that can do or say anything without consequences. A key attribute of an effective board is that it is comprised of a majority of independent outsiders; a board with a majority of insiders is often viewed as being stacked with sycophants, especially in cases where the executive and the chair are the same person."

In 2011 Palmer also pointed out: "Most non-profits and private companies now have or are seeking independent boards. Most now require that a minimum of two-thirds be independent. Having a chair and a president who are one in the same is toxic to any corporation, non-profit or for-profit. I am proud of the changes we have instituted at Kentucky Equality Federation and our affiliates."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation responds to the return of the Lexington homophobic billboard. Lexington's Billboard Controversy Continues.

The 1st Billboard
The 1st Billboard
The Kentucky Equality Federation has been informed by concerned citizens in Lexington that the Bluegrass Church of Christ has reinstalled their billboard, which compares homosexuality to abortion, then condemns both.

"The billboard in question was the center of a nationwide firestorm, which unfairly turned Lexington and Kentucky into a brief national laughingstock," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch. "While Kentucky Equality Federation supports the church's right to free speech, this speech is embarrassing Lexington and the community, as well as needlessly trying to drive a wedge between well- meaning people.

According to a recent article in Lexington’s Herald-Leader newspaper, the amount spent on the initial sign, rental, and the replacement is about $9,100.00 so far," Koch continued. "Jesus once said, 'And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.'

I can't help but wonder how many cups of water, shelters for the needy, or food for the hungry could have been obtained for $9100. It's sad that driving people away from God is more important to this church. Apparently, the Bluegrass Church of Christ and Christ Himself have very different priorities.

We must stand firmly for the right of each individual to pursue their happiness, their life, and their liberty, not just because our republic is based on that principle, but because that is the principle on which God, the Bible, and Christianity is established."

Minister Edith Maker, Ph.D. Kentucky Equality Federation's Religious Communities Outreach Director also commented on the issue.

"In a world of so many uncertainties, it is both relieving and refreshing to know that the God of the Bible is redeeming and restoring," Minister Baker said. "He is a God of Love, who revealed himself clearly through Jesus when He admonished each of us to love one another. While God and the Bible have been used to condemn the science of planet rotation (Galileo 1500s), mental illness as an evil spirit (through the 1950s), Black people has having no soul (1900s), left-handed people as being in league with the devil (through the 1950s), and forbidding marriage between blacks and whites (as late as 1967), we have come to realize these are misinterpretations and misrepresentations of God and the Bible.

Unfortunately, these misrepresentations of God and the Bible have been forged as a mechanism for control. Today, many are repeating these same false ideologies in their opposition to same-sex relationships. Just as blacks have been liberated to worship God as well as the mentally ill, left-handed people and women, homosexuals must also be liberated by the church to pursue their relationship and completeness in Christ."

Jordan Palmer, the founder and previous president of Kentucky Equality Federation who is still recovering, also commented for the first time since he stepped down for health reasons as previously reported.

"I am outraged by selfish Churches who, in the name of the Creator spread hatred," Palmer said. "I did a radio show about this years ago: God039s-Law/Page1.html.

I remind them the Bluegrass Church of Christ that The Old Covenant also states that you may sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7), and it is a sin to have sexual relations with your wife during her monthly menstrual cycle.

Everyone is also morally obligated according to Exodus to kill their neighbors for working on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), and I may not approach the alter of God without perfect vision (Leviticus 21:20), it is a sin for men to trim the hair around their temples and their beard (Leviticus 19:27), and football must should be outlawed since toughing the skin of a dead pig makes you unclean. Also, it is a sin for anyone to plant different seeds in the same garden or to wear garments made of two separate materials (Leviticus 19:19).

I am sick of organized religion taking curtain passages and trying to divide a loving community. Forget the Church, get to know God yourself, and Jesus in the New Covenant when he died for our sins.

Fortunately, we do not follow the passages I have just outlined (and we urge you not to) because Jesus taught us differently. I apologize if I offend anyone for my religious beliefs, but I am sick of people using the Creator to spread hate and fear to advance their own selfish agendas. It is also not my intention to offend the Jewish community in any capacity."

Activist Jordan Palmer remains on the Board of Directors.

Jeff Johnson, Kentucky Equality Federation's Central Kentucky Regional Director also commented on the issue: "While I would strongly defend the right of this church to purchase billboard space to promote their beliefs, I do believe it is important that we stand publicly against the message delivered.

I see this billboard as an attempt to incite hatred and legitimize discrimination by using an umbrella of 'selective morality.' The primary message delivered by the Bluegrass Church of Christ is one of judgment and it is in direct contradiction of Christ's words.

This is no more than a publicity stunt devised to shame a segment of the community into silence and offer a war cry to another segment with a political agenda to promote. In the grand scheme of things, I believe though unpleasant and offensive, it also serves as a reminder the entire community that discrimination exists, even in Lexington, and the fight for basic Civil Rights is ongoing."

SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT: "This press release is especially noteworthy because it is a collaborative effort between the Office of the President, the Central Kentucky Regional Director, and the Religious Communities Outreach Director. Additionally, it is also the first official comment made by our founder and past president, Jordan Palmer, who is still recovering. That the issue has inspired him to speak publicly on the matter illustrates its gravity," Joshua Koch

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation condemns treatment of incarcerated LGBTI citizens at Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard

Richmond, Ky. - Kentucky Equality Federation, a statewide equality organization, condemns the lack of responsiveness by the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard, Ky. Despite the fact that jail officials have been notified of a growing trend of sexual assault and harassment by straight inmates against LGBTI inmates, there has been no effort to curb the situation by segregating the jail.

On several occasions, jail officials have hung up the telephone of Kentucky Equality Federation Outreach Directors. Additional complaints continue to be taken by Southeastern Kentucky Regional Management.

Due to the lack of response by jail officials, a distinct lack of effort on their part to resolve this, and the increased number of complaints, Kentucky Equality Federation has filed complaints with the Kentucky Office of Attorney General and appropriate federal enforcement agencies.

"It really is quite disturbing that harassment and assault don't provoke a response," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch. "Inmates have rights. They are citizens and human beings. While they are incarcerated, they are especially vulnerable under confinement, and we owe it to them to make sure they are not subjected to criminal abuse, regardless of what they stand accused of.

"It is our opinion that jail officials have and continue to show a callous disregard for basic human decency by failing to protect its LGBTI inmates from abuse. I also remind the public that just because you are arrested for something does not make you guilty. We presume innocence until guilt is proven, and this principle is a fundamental American value."

Koch continued: "Kentucky Equality Federation's Southeastern Kentucky Regional Director, Will Taylor, will continue to monitor the situation and report any additional violations to the Office of the President. Any additional violations will be reported to the above-mentioned agencies. The safety, dignity, and due process rights of all Kentuckians are paramount concerns of our organization."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lexington's billboard - homosexuality is a sin; abortion is murder

Joshua Koch, President

-> Click here for additional information on the leadership change.

Lexington New Circle Road Billboard
Lexington New Circle Road Billboard
LEXINGTON, KY - Lexington drivers have been subjected to an offensive and divisive message. Bluegrass Church of Christ posted a billboard condemning the LGBTI community and abortion using Old Testament references.

While we respect the right to free speech, we condemn Bluegrass Church of Christ for leaving out other parts of the Bible, a practice known as “prooftexting” in some Christian circles. There are plenty of passages extolling good behavior, such as helping the widow and orphan, aiding the sick, and forgiving others.

Likewise, there are portions of the Bible which also contain stories of graphic violence and practices which we question today. For instance, there are plenty of passages which describe beating people to death with rocks for minor crimes, amputating limbs for petty offences, endorsing polygamy, allowing incest to go unpunished, and recommending genocide and repression of women and certain ethnic groups. Is the Bluegrass Church of Christ prepared to endorse these Bible passages?

This is a grandstanding attempt by a local church to divide Lexington’s community and to provide moral cover for discrimination, asserting that homosexuality is somehow anti-God and making a vague comparison of homosexuality to murder.

Recently, a lesbian couple was kept out of a prom at a religious school for having the bravery to acknowledge their own identities. If the faith community of Lexington continues to silently tolerate this public humiliation and discrimination of the LGBTI community in our area, it will have abandoned Christ’s commandment to love your neighbor.

We call on religious congregations and groups of all faiths in the Lexington area to forsake and condemn these discriminatory actions.

We, as the Kentucky Equality Federation, condemn this ongoing pattern of persecution which is being carried out in the name of religion.

Kentucky Equality Federation names new President

London, KY (issued by the Board of Directors) -- The interim committee of Kentucky Equality Federation's official and permanent membership yesterday appointed a new president. The meeting was requested and urged by the Chairman of the Board of Directors on May 22, 2012.

Official and permanent membership meet once a year to elect the Board of Directors and the President. Between these times the interim committee handles most items with limited authority. The Board elects its own Chair (sometimes referred to a the Board President), Treasurer, and Secretary of the Corporation.

The Chairman of the Board is a non-executive Chairman with the President elected by official and permanent membership being the chief executive officer of Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates. Former President Jordan Palmer and the Board of Directors made sweeping changes several years ago to get Board members out of day-to-day operations and make the Board an oversight and legislative body for Kentucky Equality Federation and its affiliates. This included extensive changes to Bylaws, ratified by official and permanent membership.

At the time, former Chairman Richard T. Jones and Secretary Dean Byrd also called the changes necessary.

Former President Jordan Palmer called the changes "a must" to make the Board of Directors "a truly independent and oversight board; management can justify any action so long as management also makes the sum of board members. Without an independent body supervising management, management has complete authority to run amok without answering to anyone. Without an independent Board you effectively have a "clique," that can do or say anything without consequences. A key attribute of an effective board is that it is comprised of a majority of independent outsiders; a board with a majority of insiders is often viewed as being stacked with sycophants, especially in cases where the executive and the chair are the same person."

In 2011 Palmer also pointed out: "Most non-profits and private companies now have or are seeking independent boards. Most now require that a minimum of two-thirds be independent. Having a chair and a president who are one in the same is toxic to any corporation, non-profit or for-profit. I am proud of the changes we have instituted at Kentucky Equality Federation and our affiliates."

Kentucky Equality Federation also took advice from published reports resulting in sweeping changes in the role of the non-executive Chair of the Board of Directors:
SmartMoney, eHow Money, the International Non-Profit Society, and Harvard Business School concur the role of non-executive Chairperson and that of the President should remain separate. According to Harvard Business School and the International Non-Profit Society, "Appointing a ‘Non-Executive Chairperson of the Board' is the single most decisive step that a Board can take to force systemic and truly effective change in corporate governance.”

The interim committee of Kentucky Equality Federation's official and permanent membership confirmed Temporary President Joshua Koch as the ex officio President.

Limited text of the Interim Committee for Official and Permanent Membership:
Whereas President Jordan Palmer transferred unconditional and complete executive authority to Vice President of Policy and Public Relations Joshua Koch on May 07, 2012 as permitted by Board Resolution 2011-006 due to critical medical reasons.
Mr. Palmer has not established a date to return to Kentucky Equality Federation and official membership is not aware if Mr. Palmer will even return to his position as President.

If Mr. Palmer does not return to his position, this is truly the end of an era for equality and fairness in Kentucky. From Mr. Palmer protesting Governor Fletcher and later Representative Fischer (1) for saying 'gays had not suffered enough,' sponsoring a Soulforce Equality Ride, forcing school boards to allow Gay-Straight Alliances, rallying at Northern Kentucky University and the Hazard Pavilion forcing policy changes, organizing the first gay marriage license in Lexington and Louisville, assisting in restoring the Kentucky AIDS Drug Assistance Program (KADAP) to successfully pushing the first federal hate crime, the accomplishments and compassion of Mr. Palmer cannot be measured. These are only some of the accomplishments of a great man who puts the needs of others before his own.

Given the great accomplishments of Mr. Jordan Palmer as president, the interim committee prays for a speedy recovery and that if willing, he will return to Kentucky Equality Federation as its sitting President.

Resolved, Mr. Koch is the rightful successor to Jordan Palmer and since Mr. Koch is currently the Temporary President, we find him to be the ex officio President and chief executive officer as of this date. Mr. Koch may serve the remainder of Mr. Palmer's term and seek another term at the next official and permanent membership meeting in November 2012.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer takes emergency leave of absence; Vice President Joshua Koch to replace Palmer

RICHMOND, Ky. - Effective May 07, 2012 President Jordan Palmer will relinquish his executive duties at the Kentucky Equality Federation. Palmer is taking an emergency medical leave of absence.

Vice President of Policy & Public Relations Joshua Koch will be assuming Palmer's duties thereby making him the Temporary President in-line with Board Resolutions.

Details of the division of tasks are being finalized over the weekend, but Interim Chairman Todd H. Melton, Jr., and Koch will be working closely with the regional directors, outreach directors and all other volunteers to ensure service continuity.

"We are grateful for the leadership President Palmer has provided," Koch said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, and we wish him a speedy recovery. His abilities and input will be sorely missed, but his primary concern has to be his recovery. Despite this setback, we will make every effort to continue the high quality of service."

  • Kentucky Equality Federation continues to be very busy this year, handling a number of hate crime and discrimination cases around the commonwealth. Several of the cases in southeastern Kentucky have garnered national attention, including a discrimination case at Hazard Pavilion and a historic hate-crime prosecution that was recently taken over by the U.S. Department of Justice at the direct request of Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer.

"My prayers are with President Palmer every single day," stated Louisville-based Central Kentucky Regional Director Jeff Johnson.

"President Palmer is a great man and it is difficult to imagine Kentucky Equality Federation without his dynamic leadership, said Todd H. Melton, Jr., interim Chairman of the Board. "Mr. Palmer truly loves his community and every person he encounters. The Board will coordinate with the Temporary President regarding the complaints and pending lawsuit against the Kentucky Department of Education as well as the Turner hate crime and other issues the Discrimination, Hate Crimes, and School Bullying Committee are investigating."

Read Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer's Statement: (.pdf) or (.xps)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Michigan-based neo-Nazi group's rally at Kentucky's Capitol

Richmond, KY - The Kentucky Equality Federation will not be participating in the counter-protest of the neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement from Michigan on April 21.

"We agree with Governor Beshear that they have a right to rally, according to the Constitution, but their appearance is certainly not welcome," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Vice President of Policy & Public Relations Joshua Koch.

Koch continued: "It should be noted that this roving band of miscreants are not native to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. While we will continue to confront and have confronted active hate groups here in Kentucky, we see no need to give this out-of-state sideshow any more attention than it has already received.

This group is a foreign nuisance and does not embody Kentucky values nor is it representative of typical Kentuckians. As such, we will choose to ignore it and work on real issues impacting the Commonwealth such as continuing to prepare our lawsuit against multiple Kentucky school districts, existing and pending hate crimes, and dozens of other school bullying and discrimination reports across the Commonwealth.

We ask other community members to refuse the confrontational environment which will give them the attention they crave. If no one shows-up to counter protest, it will be an embarrassment to the National Socialist Movement.

As a matter of policy we treat all hate groups, including last-years visit by the Westboro Baptist Church the same, we ignore them and deny them the attention they so desperately seek.

We ask the media to accurately portray them as a non-native street-theater act trying to foment discord in a state far from their own homes. Again, we ask all other citizens of Kentucky to ignore them for what they are: Foreign hatemonger's with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than invade our Capitol with the sole purpose of being confrontational and obnoxious."

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama described the group as the nation's largest neo-Nazi movement. "These are people who do nothing but go around and stir up trouble."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Two plead guilty in Kevin Pennington case. Kentucky being the first in the United States to use to federal hate crimes law.

Two of the Eastern Kentucky people who participated in the kidnapping and assault of Kevin Pennington because of his sexual orientation have plead guilty and by doing so have become the first in the United States to be convicted under the federal hate-crimes law.

Alexis Leeann Jenkins and Mable Ashley Jenkins, pleaded guilty to one charge of kidnapping and one charge of aiding others in causing bodily injury. The other two accused, David Jason Jenkins, and Anthony Ray Jenkins plead not guilty.

The pressure to make this a federal case came after months of failed talks and negotiations with Kentucky prosecutors. Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer officially requested federal intervention on August 24, 2011 and received an immediate response from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, GA.

Kentucky Equality Federation urged Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein with the U.S. Department of Justice as well as Walter Atkinson with the U.S. Department of Justice to immediately begin federal investigations.

"United States Attorney Kerry Harvey has shown enormous outreach and support of the federal hate crimes legislation," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. My community wants exactly what every other citizen wants, equality under law and to love and protect our families. My community does not seek the approval of hate groups or intolerant people, only the acceptance that we have the same right to the pursuit of happiness.

By any measure, this case being federalized is a major victory for Kentucky's LGBTI community, but the price for this victory was too high, Kevin Pennington has been devastated by the these events, simply because of his sexual orientation. United States Attorney Kerry Harvey and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have just sent a message to everyone, hate crimes will not be tolerated, and we thank everyone involved for listening to our request for federal assistance."

Kentucky Equality Federation Request for Federal Intervention:

"Kentucky Equality Federation extends its gratitude to Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein with the U.S. Department of Justice for taking our request seriously and acting promptly, as well as Walter Atkinson with the U.S. Department of Justice, and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Kerry Harvey," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Indictments secured in Kentucky hate crime; the first for the Southern District of Kentucky

“People cannot assault people based on their sexual orientation,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. “Kentucky Equality Federation thanks U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey for securing indictments for such a brutal hate crime.  The indictments against David Jason Jenkins, and Anthony Ray Jenkins for the hate crime against Kevin Pennington happened yesterday.  We believe justice will prevail in this case under the direction of U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey.”

Kentucky Equality Federation requested the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice federalize the case because local Judges must keep the bulk of the population happy in order to remain in office. Prosecuting a gay hate crime in the Southern District of the Commonwealth would definitely damage their chances for re-reelection.

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.

Palmer continued: “This will be the first time the federal hate crimes status has been used in the Southern District of Kentucky.”

Kentucky Equality Federation Vice President of Policy & Public Relations stated: “Kentucky Equality Federation is the Commonwealth's largest advocate for equal treatment of all citizens. As our mission statement explains, “‘Kentucky Equality Federation believes all people are endowed with inalienable 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.’”

Kentucky Equality Federation Request for Federal Intervention:

-->> Additional comments should be directed to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Kentucky. Media may not contact Kevin Pennington. Kentucky Equality Federation will issue no additional comments on ongoing investigations or trials.

See previous press releases:

  1. U.S. Department of Justice responds to Kentucky Equality Federation's request for help with four (4) arrests in a Harlan County Hate Crime.
  2. Another Harlan County Hate Crime - Attempted Murder of a Gay Man - U.S. Justice Department notified.
  3. Kentucky Equality Federation to meet with Kentucky and U.S. Department of Justice officials about hate crimes.
  4. Kentucky Equality Federation communicates with the U.S. Department of Justice about Harlan County Hate Crime.

# # # # # #

NOTE: Kentucky Equality Federation is a member of "ILGA," the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, a non-government observer at the United Nations with consultive status. ILGA is the world's largest and oldest Federation with more than 600 affiliates worldwide. ILGA continues to be active in campaigning for LGBTI rights on the international human rights and civil rights scene and regularly petitions the United Nations and governments. ILGA is represented in around 110 countries across the world.

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Please contact the Policy & Public Relations: (877) KEF - 5775 - Ext. 1.

# # # # # #

REPORTERS/SUPPORTERS: You can subscribe to press releases by clicking here; not all press releases are submitted to every reporter. Remain informed and get exclusive stories by subscribing to our official press release feed in a browser (email delivery also available).

# # # # # #