Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cease and Desist Order issued to Logan County Schools by Kentucky Equality Federation

Kentucky Equality Federation today issued a "Cease and Desist Order" to Logan County Schools for the distribution of Bibles in their school district.  This is yet another school district in the commonwealth which has required a warning. (previous press release).

SUMMARY: I am the Vice President of Legal for the Kentucky Equality Federation, and write on behalf of the organization to support Ms. Alms and any other parents who rightfully find issue with the practice of allowing this distribution on school property, as it is in direct violation of both the U.S. Constitution and Section V of the Kentucky Constitution.

In your most recent response, you cited the case Peck v. Upshur Co. Board of Educ., 155 F.3d 274 (4th Cir. 1998). While this case (which as you know is only persuasive, not binding in the Commonwealth of Kentucky) does address the issue of Bible distribution in public schools and permits a passive offering of such materials in a limited manner, the Court specifically finds this Constitutional only as it applies to secondary school students. The court noted that “in elementary schools, the concerns animating the coercion principle are at their strongest because of the impressionability of young elementary-age children. (read the entire cease and desist order)



"I believe in God and I know God loves all people. I am a practicing Christian, and I also practice Taoism. However, a public school is not the proper venue to distribute religious materials of any type," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "This practice will cease immediately or I will instruct our legal department to sue the Logan County School District. I will teach my children about religion at home. We again are notifying the Kentucky Department of Education and the Office of Kentucky Education Secretary, Mr. Joseph U. Meyer."

Kentucky Equality Federation's Religious Outreach Director, Minister Edith Baker, Ph.D. again 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."

Board of Directors:

"Simply stated, what is occurring in Logan County schools is unconstitutional," stated Kentucky Equality Federation's Chairman of the Board, Brandon Combs. "The response given by the Logan County School District's hired counsel is a red herring, at best. At worst, it demonstrates the acceptance of negligent behavior by the district's personnel. This incident occurred in an elementary school. At this age range, religious studies should be directed by the each student's family, not the school district."

Speaking about the response received from the school, Kentucky Equality Federation's Vice Chairman, Gary Fowler, PsyD, CDC/ASPH Fellow stated: "I think the response provided by the school district’s attorney is a standard scapegoat. The case cited had no bearing on this case as was quoted regarding allowing the passive distribution of these materials. It is my understanding and their admission that this was anything but a passive distribution because each child was handed the material and expected to take it. Also, the letter eludes to the individual distributing these materials as a long time member of the community which in turn, at least to me, suggests that the knowledge of what type of material this man was bringing for active distribution was implied."

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--> Sign now to urge the Kentucky Legislature to amend the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Special Statement from the Chairman of the Board


"The continued pursuit of equality ordinances throughout the Commonwealth is not a logical use of the time, resources, and skills of equality advocates and their allies," stated Kentucky Equality Federation's Chairman of the Board, Brandon Combs.

"With 120 counties and 15 major cities in Kentucky, if we get one local equality ordinance a year, it will take over a century to achieve equality, but this doesn't include smaller cities and unincorporated areas of the Commonwealth.

Amending one law, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966, would impact the entire LGBTI population and its allies throughout the Commonwealth, rather than small incremental populations achieved with municipal ordinances.

This has been made clear in a previous press release, it is the Kentucky House of Representatives who continue to stall the passage of such a law. As it currently stands, many groups are getting 'special rights' and protections such as veterans, national origin, smoking status, and family status just to name a few. No protections from Frankfort are extended to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

The passage of local ordinances could also once again provoke the Kentucky House or Senate into passing a law rescinding the authority of cities to pass civil rights ordinances since the Commonwealth of Kentucky already has a civil rights law and occupies this area of government."

--> Sign now to urge the Kentucky Legislature to amend the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Special Rights for Some; Kentucky House of Representatives continues to stall Statewide Equality Law

Jordan Palmer, President
Brandon Combs, Chairman of the Board
Jillian Hall, Esq., Vice President of Legal
Mike Mansfield, Frankfort Council Organizer with

FRANKFORT, KY – "The Commonwealth of Kentucky was the first state South of the Mason-Dixon line to pass a Civil Rights Act, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "The Kentucky Civil Rights Act was signed into law by Governor Edward T. Breathitt, and prohibits discrimination and protects people from discrimination based on race, national origin, color, and religion.

The Kentucky Civil Rights Act has been amended many times to include protected groups based on familial status, disability, age, collective bargaining agreements, a protection from discrimination because a person does or does not smoke (KRS 344.040), to name a few. However, sexual orientation and gender identity have never been included as a protected group in Kentucky. Kentucky Equality Federation receives regular complaints from the Commonwealth’s citizens about employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Kentucky, once the leader in civil rights, has fallen behind other states without question due to the lack of action by the Kentucky Legislature to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Indeed, due to said lack of action, subdivisions of the Commonwealth have created their own civil rights agencies with less success, less funding, and fewer resources than the Commonwealth’s principal agency responsible for enforcing and ordering correction or remedial action in discrimination cases.

Though legislation is filed yearly to add these protections, the Kentucky House and Senate stall the proposed additions. It is both unethical and immoral to deny a targeted group of people protection under the law while giving special rights to others. However, the subject of adding sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected group has never even passed a Committee vote to go to the full floor of either Chamber.

However, after consulting both Republican and Democratic leadership, the moral act of adding sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class, not to mention repealing Kentucky’s 2004 Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships does not pass Committee even though each respective Committee in the House have had enough votes for years to get this critical legislation to the full floor, bringing it closer to being passed into law.

Why file legislation if you do not intend to push it and ensure the Committee Chair doesn't kill it in Committee, especially considering the House has enough votes to get both out of Committee? The only answer can be that House Democrats fear reprisal from the Kentucky Democratic Party and the House Caucus.

The Governor has made his position clear by enacting an executive order 2008-0473, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in Kentucky’s Government. The U.S. President similarly made his position clear, with the U.S. Vice President going so far as to be the first, highest ranking elected federal official to be in favor of gender neutral marriage, and the position of the U.S. President mirroring the Vice President’s a few days later.

The Kentucky Democratic Party is both out of sync and out of touch with the national Democratic Party. The Democratic Platform states: “We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.”

Per the U.S. Bill of Rights which the Commonwealth of Kentucky ratified, the federal government and the states share joint, parallel sovereignty. People can scream federal overreach until they turn blue, but when our Frankfort lawmakers continue to fail us; we are left with no other option but to appeal to our lawmakers in the District of Columbia, the Kentucky Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

People in Frankfort tout Kentucky sovereignty against an oversized and intrusive federal government in circumstances hardly believable because the reliability of the Kentucky Legislative to do what is best for the Commonwealth and protect all of her citizens has been stretched beyond belief."

Palmer concluded: "I urge the Commonwealth's lawmakers to willfully place Kentucky back in the forefront of civil rights; without adding sexual orientation and gender identity you have effectively given "special rights" to other protected classes including national origin, religious beliefs, family status, age, and race, amongst others. If our lawmakers want to show Kentucky sovereignty and freedom, do it now before the order to do so is handed down by the courts."

"The fact that our Kentucky lawmakers continue to refuse to act is an unacceptable failing on the part of our allies," stated Kentucky Equality Federation Chairman Brandon Combs. “At this juncture we must seriously evaluate our position, and take the next step, for the betterment of our Commonwealth. Priority legislation has sat idly in committees for far too long. The Board supports President Jordan Palmer in taking every step necessary to move these legislative priorities from their pigeonhole in committees, including reactivating our political action committees to both fund and endorse candidates who support our Mission Statement. We will get these legislative priorities from their pigeonhole in House committees."

Kentucky Equality Federation's Vice President of Legal, Attorney Jillian Hall added: "As part of the Office of the President and head of the legal department it saddens me that the people in Frankfort will not act. As a member of the straight community I fervently believe all people are entitled to equality and to be treated the same under Kentucky laws. The Kentucky Legislature should not have to wait for the federal government to do it for us, and given the lack of progress by our legislature to protect its citizens, every Kentucky citizen should be outraged."

Mike Mansfield a Frankfort Council Organizer with stated: “Many of those who call themselves progressive Democrats are homophobic. I understand them pretty well, though. I was part of their "club" until about 1993."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Paducah Middle School Receives High Marks Responding to School Bullying

PADUCAH, KY -- Kentucky Equality Federation officials recently contacted Paducah Middle School about bullying complaints. Due to the severity of one of complaints, with one child saying she was considering suicide, the complaint was pulled from the School Bullying Committee and handled directly by Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer and Attorney Jillian Hall, Vice President of Legal.

For a copy of the letter Kentucky Equality Federation sent to the school, follow this link:

"School officials immediately responded and took swift action," stated Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. “We cannot stress enough the impact school bullying has on the Commonwealth's youth and sincerely thank Paducah Middle School, from the school attorney, school principal, guidance counselors, and other members of the school in administration for their immediate action. Paducah Middle School should be a model to the rest of the schools in the Commonwealth for their swift action and immediate response. It is possible a life was saved due to their immediate response to our letter."

Palmer continued: "Regardless of the circumstances, children need to know they can go to school officials with bullying. It must be reported to the principal who must then report it to the County Attorney for investigation. The attitude to enforce Kentucky law however is set from the principal down and we again applaud Principal Tim Huddleston, Paducah Middle School's faculty and staff, and their legal representation, Mark Whitlow, an outstanding individual."

Kentucky Equality Federation attorney Jillian Hall added: "What a pleasure it was working with Paducah officials, and reaching a successful outcome without issue. Other Kentucky school systems should really look to the Paducah Middle School for a framework for change in their own programs."