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."