Politics

Kentucky Fairness Campaign Director arrested for Protesting KFB Discrimination policies

Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman and fairness advocates Sonja De Vries and Carla Wallace were dragged out of the Kentucky State Fair’s ham breakfast for the Kentucky Farm Bureau Thursday morning.

The three were arrested after protesting KFB’s discriminatory policies against LGBTQ+ people.

Each year, Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance customers are automatically charged a fee that enrolls them as compulsory members of the company’s 501(c)4 lobbying arm, which spent nearly $100,000 last year lobbying the Kentucky General Assembly on policies outlined in their printed policy book, which elected officials receive but policyholders do not.

The policy book includes positions that are anti-LGBTQ, anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-choice, anti-POC, pro-death penalty, and more, They recently added a policy targeting transgender students in Kentucky schools. Anyone can download a full copy of the 2019 Kentucky Farm Bureau Policies book at Fairness.org/KFB.

In 2015, three protesters were arrested for standing in silent protest of the policies at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled 2-1 against activists’ First Amendment and False Arrest claims against the Kentucky State Police in Hartman et al. v Thompson et al.

Letter to the Editor: Openly gay Kentucky man to challenge Mitch McConnell for Senate

Jimmy Ausbrooks official Facebook

Dear Editor, 

I wanted to reach out to the readers of Queer Kentucky and announce my candidacy for the United States Senate. I am a native of Kentucky, a mental health counselor, and a proud gay man that advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. 

I grew up in rural Simpson County, raised by my grandparents and attended church regularly as a child. I feared coming out due to the stigma within both my family and the community I lived. Today, I live in the same community, but discovered the courage to live my life and pursue my career and my dreams. I graduated from college and took off to see the world. Those experiences allowed me to discover the man I am today.

I elected to go back to school after twenty years in retailmanagement and become a mental health counselor. I did accomplish my goal of becoming a counselor and now provide gay affirming therapy in addition to substance and mental health counseling. I strive to be a positive role model within not only mycommunity, but the state and hopefully soon on a national stage. I am the President of the Kentucky Association for LGBT Issues in Counseling (KALGBTIC), a Division of the Kentucky Counseling Association. I also serve as the Vice-President of the South Central Kentucky Mental Health Counseling Association and Chair the Advocacy Committee. In the past few months I have drafted letters to the Bowling Green City Commissioners advocating for the Fairness Ordinance. I plan to hold the first LGBT Mental Health Conference in the state early 2020 and win the 2020 Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.  

I am running against the third most powerful Republican in the United States. I have the goal of defeating and unseating Mitch McConnell in 2020. It is time that Kentucky’s Pride is restored and true representation for Kentucky takes place. As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community I was tired of business as usual in Washington. Seeing continued failure to get any work done in the U. S. Senate, like not bringing the Equality Act to the Senate floor. Our community deserves equal protect and equal representation.  

I support many progressive policy ideas like free education, student loan debt forgiveness, healthcare for all, mental healthcare expansions, affordable prescriptions, immigration reform, living wages, term limits, tax reform, common sense gun legislation, balancing the budget, climate change and most importantly equality for all, including women’s right to govern their own body and reproductive rights, in addition to EQUALITY for the LGBTQ+ community. 

I am a hardworking individual that lives paycheck to paycheck like so many American’s do, I don’t have deep pockets, wealthy friends, or special interest groups funding my campaign. I do have a passion, a vision, and heart. I would like to have the support of the LGBTQ+ community, labor unions, farmers, hardworking families, teachers, and any man or woman that is tired of not being represented in Washington. 

I want to restore the duty of Congress. I am about the people’s interest and not my personal interest, providing true leadership, and demanding both action and accountability from leadership. I am humbly asking for your support of my candidacy. I would like to request both an endorsement of Queer Kentucky and the support of Queer Kentucky readers. 

Together, we can give a voice to the voiceless, expand equal rights, and build a bridge to the Equality. My campaign is about building bridges not walls. Stand with me and you stand for Equality, you stand with me we can defeat and unseat Mitch McConnell and keep Kentucky moving forward. Together, we will change the direction on policy, equality, and basic human rights. 

Sincerely, 

Jimmy Ausbrooks, M. Ed., LPCA                                                                                                                     Candidate for the United States Senate 2020

12th Kentucky city adopts LGBTQ+ Fairness Ordinance!

DAYTON — With a unanimous vote of 5-0 tonight, the Northern Kentucky town of Dayton, population 5,338, became the twelfth city in the Commonwealth with a Fairness Ordinance prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“Dayton is extremely excited to be able to join the other eleven cities, out of 419 in the Commonwealth, to continue to be the welcoming community we know and love,” said Dayton Mayor Ben Baker upon the ordinance’s passage. “If any other river cities need help in embracing the Fairness Ordinance, please reach out. We urge our state leaders to adopt these protections—in Kentucky, y’all means all.”

Dayton City Councilman Joe Neary added, “I genuinely hope this carries up to the state level so cities don’t have to deal by this city by city. I can’t believe we’ll only be the twelfth in the Commonwealth.”

“We expect Dayton will be the first in a series of Northern Kentucky cities to adopt Fairness Ordinances,” shared Northern Kentucky Fairness leader Bonnie Meyer, who also helps run the Northern Kentucky Pride Festival. “We were proud to see Covington challenge its peer cities to follow their lead on LGBTQ rights.”

Eleven other Kentucky cities have adopted local Fairness Ordinances, covering just over a quarter 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), and Henderson (2019). 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.

200+ LGBTQ Leaders from Across U.S. Gather in Louisville, July 17-20 for Equality Federation Leadership Conference

Louisville — The national Equality Federation and Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign will co-host the 22nd annual Leadership Conference in Louisville from July 17-20.

The conference is the premier gathering of LGBTQ movement leaders focusing on the crucial work of winning equality in state legislatures and local communities across the country.

Nearly 250 people will be in attendance to strategize, mobilize and connect on critical movement conversations addressing issues like racial justice, HIV, conversion therapy, and nondiscrimination.

Among those in attendance will be representatives from 39 organizations, including national partners and state leaders working on the ground from Florida to Maine, North Dakota to California, and everywhere in-between.

“We are excited to bring the Equality Federation Leadership Conference to Louisville this year so that state leaders from our 39 member organizations, along with many national leaders, can celebrate the 20th anniversary of Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance and experience Kentucky hospitality,” shared Equality Federation Executive Director Rebecca Isaacs.

“The Fairness Campaign has been working throughout Kentucky for years to push for LGBTQ equality policies, which now are in place in 11 communities throughout the state. Fresh off state legislative sessions with big wins and some challenges, state equality leaders and the Equality Federation are looking forward to these three days of strategy, reflection and fun in Louisville, which will spur us all to return to our homes and continue the struggle.”

Chris Hartman, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign said, “We are extremely excited to host the Equality Federation’s Leadership Conference during this landmark year for Louisville, celebrating 20 years of Kentucky’s first LGBTQ-inclusive Fairness Ordinance. In partnership with the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, the Fairness Campaign continues to seek new ways we can showcase our city’s LGBTQ inclusiveness and perfect 100 rating from the Equality Federation and Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. Hosting state and national LGBTQ movement leaders for this important conference is another concrete example of Louisville’s commitment to diversity and fairness for all.”

Ahead of the conference, Equality Federation offers day-long institutes focused on building skills and strong peer connections for state leaders working in: Communications, Development, Executive Leadership, and Field.

More Kentucky Conservatives push back on Pride events: Western Kentucky Pride Festival

PADUCAH — A Western Kentucky Pride event could be in jeopardy after conservative community members advocate for it to move indoors and out of the public waterfront. In the past week, Western Kentucky Pride Festival event sponsors have received letters requesting them to back out of the event, said Dustin Havens, director of WKPF. So …

More Kentucky Conservatives push back on Pride events: Western Kentucky Pride Festival Read More »

Taylor County Library pride panelist reflects on rural upbringing, asks others to share their story

Jeremy McFarland, Campbellsville

Participating in the LGBTQ+ Pride Panel at Taylor County Library was one of the greatest honors of my life so far. While growing up as a transgender man in Taylor County, I never imagined something like the panel ever taking place. As a panelist, I and four other openly LGBTQ+ adults shared our stories, advice, and perspectives to an audience of young LGBTQ+ people and adults seeking to support those youth.

Growing up in Taylor County, I did not know a single openly LGBTQ+ adult while I was growing up, there were no resources or groups available to support or guide me, and the messages I received from my community were that LGBTQ+ people either didn’t exist in our small town or didn’t deserve to. This made coming out as transgender incredibly difficult, particularly because I didn’t have the words to explain what I was feeling and no one to go to once I figured it out. 

I spent a lot of growing up wanting to die. When my family tried to find help for me, we were repeatedly turned away. Despite the fact that I was actively planning to kill myself, no therapists in Taylor County were willing to accept me as a patient explicitly because I was transgender. Later on, once I started hormone replacement therapy, our local pharmacy was unwilling to fill my prescription. When I went to have my name changed, either through malice or ignorance, I was initially turned away by the judge. Even my parents, who at first struggled to understand what I was going through, lost friends and were denied services because they learned to love me as their son. 

Like so many others before me, I left my hometown the moment I was able to. I made a new home for myself with a beautiful, diverse, and loving chosen family in Bowling Green (ironically, a town that many have had to flee for reasons similar to my own), while many of my childhood friends moved on to find homes in other cities across the state, country, and even around the world. Despite so many of us running away from Campbellsville, we all seemed to come together in response to the public library’s Pride Panel and the controversy that has followed it. 

I can’t speak for everyone else, but, for me, being so rejected by my hometown has left a painful wound on my heart. I am past the bitterness of it all, but until Campbellsville is able to heal its bigotry, I don’t think I can fully heal, either. However, this event was a vital step in the right direction.

During the panel and at the subsequent board of trustees meeting, I was able to meet older LGBTQ people who have lived in Taylor County their entire lives. A part of me feels truly healed by knowing they were there the whole time, however, I am also pained that these adults shared my fears and felt they could not make themselves known before now. I also had the chance to meet some incredible trans boys who, with the love of their families and the support of their local library, have harnessed the strength and bravery to be open about their identities in a way I wasn’t able to at their age. Even more uplifting, tons of people from the community came out to show their support and thank the library at Thursday’s board of trustees meeting.

There is still so much work to be done, though. The Taylor County Fiscal Court (which includes Judge Executive Barry Smith, who publicly expressed his prejudicial views towards LGBTQ+ people in the community he was selected to serve) is at odds with library staff regarding this situation. If we want to ensure that the local library can continue to be a sanctuary for all members of our community, we must keep the conversation going.

This has been a coming out for the LGBTQ+ community in Taylor County and Campbellsville. For the first time, our existence is being publicly acknowledged. My greatest hope is that we do not allow this opportunity to pass us by. For the sake of LGBTQ+ youth currently growing up in Taylor County and Campbellsville, for the sake of those who had to leave and those brave enough to stay, and for the sake of honoring our own human dignity, we must not allow them to shut the closet doors on us again.

Please consider sharing your story by filling out this form or emailing us at stories@unheardky.com.

Feel free to reach out to this email if you would like to be kept in the loop about future responses to homophobia and transphobia in Taylor County.

 

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