Politics

Rural Kentucky town’s Pride event in jeopardy

By Ben Gierhart SOMERSET — Some disturbing news has come to the attention of QueerKentucky. Kristina Brant, a PhD candidate in sociology at Harvard University and a doctoral fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, took to Twitter on Monday, November 11 to report that she believes …

Rural Kentucky town’s Pride event in jeopardy Read More »

Anti-LGBTQ+ Bevin of Kentucky concedes to Andy Beshear

UPDATE: Matt Bevin used his right to a recanvasing that took place today, but in the end, the exiting governor said he couldn’t fight the numbers. “We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Bevin said at a news conference. “I truly wish the attorney general well …

Anti-LGBTQ+ Bevin of Kentucky concedes to Andy Beshear Read More »

Kentucky State Representative introduces anti-trans legislation

The first anti-trans legislation of 2020 is in the works according to a Kentucky State Representative’s Facebook page.

State Representative Savannah Maddox (R-61st District) just announced her intention to file a bill in the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly targeting transgender kids and preventing them from obtaining the care they need.

Yesterday, I began drafting a bill designed to protect children under the age of 18 from gender reassignment surgery or from receiving drug treatments designed to alter their natal gender. I am sure that many of you have read about the shocking case of this 7 yr old boy in Texas whose parents are in the midst of an ugly courtroom battle as a result of his mother’s desire to transition his gender from male to female, but truth be told this has been in my mind and on my heart for quite a while. I am a strong advocate for parent’s rights- but it is not the right of a parent to permanently alter a child’s gender or identity, even when based upon certain behaviors or the perceptions of a child’s mind which has not yet had time to fully develop.

Queer Kentucky will continue to update this story as it unfolds.

TODAY: Supreme Court to decide on protections for LGBTQ+ employees

By Ben Gierhart

In an era when acceptance of queer people seems to be at an all-time high, it may come as a shock that the idea of whether or not someone can be fired for being gay or trans is still being contested. That is exactly what is being decided on October 8 as arguments will take place before the Supreme Court of the United States. During the proceedings, justices will consider whether anti-LGBT discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited under Title VII, which bars discrimination based on sex in the workforce.

“That’s the question the Supreme Court is set to decide in Bostock v. Clayton County,” says Dan Canon, a local civil rights lawyer and professor who perhaps most notably contributed to arguments made before the SCOTUS in 2015 that decided the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“There is no specific statutory protection for LGBTQ+ people in federal law, but some courts (and Obama’s EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Comission: a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination]) interpret existing laws prohibiting sex discrimination as also prohibiting LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace,” adds Canon.

According to Canon, the law is a mess right now: “For example, lesbians and gay men are protected from workplace discrimination in Indiana, but not in Kentucky; in Kentucky and Ohio, however, there are clear and explicit protections for trans people under the same federal law.” To be sure, this is a large part of why the SCOTUS exists, to resolve inconsistencies in the interpretation of federal law.

Donald Trump has made two controversial justice appointments in Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, which lead many to believe that the SCOTUS’ decision on this matter may very well be unfavorable. In that scenario, the result would be that the few federal courts that protect LGBTQ+ people from workplace discrimination under Title VII would no longer be able to protect those people. “The federal law would be definitively interpreted as providing protection only on the basis of sex, not sexual orientation,” explains Canon.

There is reason for hope, however.

Like other states in the nation, Kentucky has LGBTQ+ non-discrimination ordinances prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Most recently, Versailles joined the list as the 14th Kentucky city to approve such an ordinance.

“The ruling will not likely affect those laws at all, except if there are state courts interpreting sex discrimination to include LGBTQ+ folks in a similar state act,” says Canon. He does go on to warn, however, that it is possible that state courts might be inclined to change their interpretation and not longer consider LGBTQ+ citizens protected if SCOTUS rules against the plaintiffs in Bostock v. Clayton County.

“In short, a ruling against the plaintiffs would be very bad, but not a seismic difference from what we see now. Congress can still do what it has been trying to do for about 20 years now and include sexual orientation in the list of protected classes under federal discrimination laws,” offers Canon.

Now is not a time to sit on laurels, wait and hope for the best. “Even if this President is impeached, the damage he’s done to the judiciary will last a lifetime,” cautions Canon. “The courts have not been, and are not going to be, any safe haven for working class people, and especially not minorities. We have to find different strategies to get these protections in place, both within electoral politics and outside of it.” If things do not go well on October 8, do not despair. As always, the usual calls to action of organizing, voting and running for office apply and are appropriate reactions that can foster the change this country needs.

To register to vote, please visit www.GoVoteKY.com. The deadline is October 7, 2019.

Versailles is 14th KY City to Approve LGBTQ Fairness Ordinance

VERSAILLES — With a vote of 3-2 tonight, the Woodford County, Kentucky town of Versailles, population 8,568, became the fourteenth city in the commonwealth with a Fairness Ordinance prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. By becoming the fourth city to adopt the measure this year, Versailles makes 2019 a record-breaking year for Fairness Ordinances in Kentucky. In 1999 and 2013 three Kentucky cities passed Fairness Ordinances.

Led by a group of local residents that have formed Woodford County Fairness with the help of the ACLU of Kentucky and Fairness Campaign, the victory in Versailles is the latest in a string of Kentucky cities that have recently voted to approve Fairness Ordinances this year, including the Georgetown last month, the Northern Kentucky town of Dayton in August, and the Western Kentucky city Henderson in May.

“After working for six years for a Fairness Ordinance in Versailles, we are so happy to see success,” shared Rebecca Kelly, a Woodford County Fairness member. “I did this for my sister, who lives in Kansas and faces the same issues. I want everyone to feel safe and welcome in this wonderful place we call home.”

Thirteen other Kentucky cities have adopted local Fairness Ordinances, covering nearly thirty percent of the state’s population—Louisville (1999), Lexington (1999), Covington (2003), Vicco (2013), Frankfort (2013), Morehead (2013), Danville (2014), Midway (2015), Paducah (2018), Maysville (2018), Henderson (2019), Dayton (2019), and Georgetown.

2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of a Statewide Fairness Law, which has only ever received two informational hearings in the Kentucky General Assembly. This year, nearly a quarter of state legislators co-sponsored the measure.

Study up and Vote y’all: Queer Kentucky Nov. Election Picks

by Ben Giehart

As I’m sure most Kentuckians are well aware, Kentucky is a red state. There are exceptions of course. As a whole, big cities like Louisville and Lexington are decently progressive – as one might expect. There are pockets of other cities and towns littered throughout the state that harbor modern civil rights laws that protect LGBTQ+ citizens from discrimination, but that covers only about 25 percent of the commonwealth. Consequently, it’s easy to lose hope that a vote in Kentucky ever really counts towards progress.

On a national scale, there is some truth to that – at least the way the electoral college is currently set up. As is most often the case however, change starts small and it starts within. 

Kentucky’s 2019 Election Day is Tuesday, November 5. If you have no clue who to vote for or would like a refresher on who to consider for governor and other state executives, QueerKentucky has got you covered. There are several big races coming down the pike whose results could mean the beginning of serious change for Kentucky.

Governor

Andy Beshear is Kentucky’s current attorney general and won the 2019 Democratic primary. He is running with lieutenant gubernatorial nominee, Assistant High School Principal Jacqueline Coleman. This race marks the most likely opportunity for Kentuckians to end Republican trifecta control (when one party controls the governor’s office and holds majorities in both chambers of the legislature) in the state.

His platform focuses on making public education a priority for the state, supporting term limits on all elected officials and improving state transparency as well as increasing wages for workers.

Beshear is running against current Governor Matt Bevin, who has been a consistent news presence during his tenure. It should be stressed again, that this race is a big opportunity for Kentucky and its citizens.

To learn more about Beshear and his campaign, please visit https://andybeshear.com/.

Attorney General

With current Attorney General Andy Beshear running for Governor, this affords Republicans the opportunity to vote in one of their own in this position, so it is important that Democratic turnout be high for this race as well.

Greg Stumbo is the Democratic nominee and is a former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, representing District 95 from 1981 to 2005 and from 2009 to 2017. It is also worth noting that he has served as Kentucky attorney general previously from 2005 to 2007. He is an extremely experienced candidate who could bring some stability to state government.

His platform focuses on his legal experience (he has practiced law for over 40 years and written laws as a state legislator), his opposition to drug companies that he says are responsible for bringing opioids into Kentucky and improving public access to the attorney general’s office.

To learn more about Stumbo and his campaign, please visit https://www.stumboforag.com/.

Secretary of State

Heather French Henry is the Democratic candidate for Kentucky secretary of state. She is perhaps the most popular candidate in this year’s Democratic field and, therefore, the most likely to win. As always, voter turnout is essential to secure this.

Henry is a former Miss American, but more importantly, she has served both Governor Beshear and Governor Bevin as the commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. In that role, she has served over 300,000 veterans in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, making her a candidate with a fair amount of experience and possible partisan support.

Her platform focuses on voter security and accessibility, civics education and historic document preservation.

To learn more about Henry and her campaign, please visit https://www.supportheatherfrenchhenry.com/.

Agriculture Commissioner

Robert Conway is the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner. He has extensive experience as the current district supervisor of the Scott County Soil and Water Conservation Board along with membership to several agricultural boards throughout the state. He is an eighth generation family farmer in Kentucky with farms in Scott and Harrison County.

His priorities as commissioner will be investing in schools and educators to develop a new generation of farmers, and he is also a strong supporter of legalizing cannabis to replace tobacco as a state cash crop. He believes that this will bring revenue and jobs to the state.

To learn more about Conway and his campaign, please visit https://www.conwayforky19.com/.

Auditor

Sheri Donahue is the Democratic nominee for state auditor, and while her resume is not overtly political, it is perhaps the most impressive of all the candidates.

Donahue holds a BS in industrial engineers from Purdue University. She spent 20 years working for the U. S. Navy and served as program manager in security and intelligence. She has assisted on projects for the Navy, Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. She also served as president and executive director for the Cyber Conflict Studies Association where she worked with government, private corporations and academia to study cyber threats.

She brings a lot of intelligence to the playing field and as auditor, promises to restore community engagement, charitable involvement and faith in government for the people of Kentucky.

To learn more about Donahue and her campaign, please visit https://donahueforky.com/.

State Treasurer

Michael Bowman is the Democratic candidate for state treasurer. He has long been active in volunteer work for local politics and ran for Jefferson County Clerk in 2018. He has served as a general manager for Yum! Brands, regional coordinator for the Southwest members of Louisville Metro Council and in 2012, was appointed as chief legislative assistant to District 14 Councilwoman Cindi Fowler.

He is currently a bank officer and branch manager for one of the largest banks in the country and is poised to jump on the political stage. 

If elected, his three priorities are accountability by providing checks and balances for the executive branch, protecting state investments ethically and investing in new technologies and finding efficiencies in how the state treasurer’s office operates.

Notably, Bowman is the only candidate listed here who is openly gay.

To learn more about Bowman and his campaign, please visit https://www.bowmanforkentucky.com/.

Each of these candidates brings something unique and valuable to the table. They each require your support in the general election. Vote for yourself and vote for Kentucky. To register to vote, please visit www.GoVoteKY.com. The deadline is October 7, 2019. 

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