Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Special Statement: What does DOMA being struck down mean for Kentucky?

Special Statement from Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer:  What does DOMA being struck down mean for Kentuckians?

Lexington, KY (Special Statement) - The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ending the federal government's discrimination against legally married same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled that Prop 8 was a decision for California with U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts stating: "We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit," Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8. This means the decision of the California Supreme Court will stand and Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

This is a great day for our Commonwealth and our country as we move closer to equality for all people. Though this will have little direct impact on Kentucky citizens, it does provide a well deserved slap on the face to Kentucky lawmakers to allow the citizens of this Commonwealth to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage again in Kentucky. While there is still more work to do to ensure equality and justice for all LGBTI citizens, these decisions are historic steps forward, and today is a great day for America.

As momentum for marriage equality continues to build, Kentucky Equality Federation and Marriage Equality Kentucky will continue to work in all regions of the Commonwealth to change the hearts and minds of people, one community at a time. We look forward to the day when the citizens of all states rescind their constitutional amendments and recognize that all people have the freedom to marry.

Today we are reminded that Kentuckians still fall short of justice and this ruling is more than anything, a call to action. For those of us who live in state's like Kentucky where our marriages are still not recognized, today's rulings are a reminder that we cannot wait for justice to be handed to us, we are going to have to get engaged and fight.

Today our rights as Americans are not based on our shared citizenship, but upon our geographic location. More than 86 million Americans, nearly one-third of the country, live in states with full marriage equality, with the state and federal protections families need. Today the U.S. Supreme Court has said we can go states like Minnesota or Iowa and get married, but we return to the Commonwealth of Kentucky legal strangers in our home state.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ambassador of Goodwill Scottie Saltsman passes away

Kentucky Equality Federation acts as a public advocate for victims of school bullying, hate crimes, and discrimination. Kentucky Equality Federation is the Commonwealth’s largest equality organization with member organizations that include Marriage Equality Kentucky, the Kentucky HIV/AIDS Advocacy Campaign, and Kentucky Equality Ballot Access.

Kentucky Equality Federation has bestowed a rare award on Richmond gay activist Scottie Saltsman.  Saltsman is also a former police officer and a supervisor at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training.

The distinction of Ambassador of Goodwill is the highest honor given by Kentucky Equality Federation. A Kentucky Equality Federation Ambassador of Goodwill embodies the foundation of our Commonwealth: diversity, tolerance, liberty, justice, and equality for all.

"The distinction of Ambassador of Goodwill was so rare that only 14 people have made it through the approval process," stated Legal Assistant Lara Clay Drake with Kentucky Equality Federation’s Legal Department. "This is not an honor that is given to different people year after year, nor an annual award given to someone. The candidate must truly be remarkable and have shaped Kentucky culture in a positive manner."

The Honorable Scottie Saltsman was a Section Supervisor with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s Department of Criminal Justice Training. Saltsman was also involved in Native American issues and one of the primary activists that pushed for the creation of the Richmond Human Rights Commission for which he served as Secretary, a post he held until he resigned on April 12, 2012 because the Commission refused to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their definition of protected classes of people or communities in their local equality/fairness ordinance.

Upon receiving news of his distinction as Ambassador of Goodwill on June 03, 2013, Scottie Saltsman stated: “I feel special; it is an honor to be recognized by an organization that fights for people and touches people across the state with their work.”

Scottie Saltsman was alive to receive the distinction; the plaque, however, will be presented to Saltsman’s Mother at his request. Ambassador of Goodwill Saltsman succumbed to the cancer he had been battling on June 09, 2013.

Ambassador Saltsman joins former Kentucky Treasurer Jonathan Miller, blogger Jim Pence, senior Representative Tom Burch, senior Kentucky Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo, Author and Dr. Bernadette Barton, International Activist and Attorney Melanie Nathan, Minister Edith Baker, Ph.D., and others including FDA officials, Kentucky authors, musicians, religious leaders, elected officials and activists.

Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer stated: "We thank you and love you for all the incredible work you have done to advance equality across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Your selfless accomplishments will never be forgotten and will indeed live forever. I thank you for your counsel and incredible friendship through the years. Knowing you and Matthew Vanderpool have been enormous highlights in my life. Ambassador of Goodwill Saltsman was a man of dignity and character who fought for the things he believed in. Though we continued to pray for a miracle, a greater power had different plans for you, but part of you will always be with us."

View Ambassador of Goodwill Scottie Saltsman's profile on Lexington Clinic: “In early 2012, Scottie began treatment for what he and his physician initially thought were internal hemorrhoids. When his symptoms did not improve, he underwent a new battery of tests and was told a biopsy would be needed. "My testing was done on March 21, 2012. On March 22, Dr. William Walton called to inform me it was cancer, and to tell me that he felt we needed to expedite our next steps," said Scottie. His diagnosis was Stage III b anal cancer, a rare form of cancer that predominantly affects men, but also strikes women. "The biggest challenge for me after learning I had cancer was just to work through the mental process that accompanies that diagnosis," said Scottie. "It is so important to stay positive and to try not to worry about what could be, or to think ‘why me’, because the moment you mentally give up, it’s over."


About Kentucky Equality Federation's Ambassadors of Goodwill:  An Ambassador of Goodwill is appointed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors on the advice of the President (an existing Ambassador of Goodwill may also nominate someone to the President for the distinction). An Ambassador of Goodwill ceremony is scheduled for August in Lexington. Due to the illness of Ambassador Saltsman, his award was expedited at the request of President Jordan Palmer and approved by Board Chairman Brandon Combs.