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.