Kentucky leaders remain silent as the state joins anti-LGBTQ lawsuit

by Spencer Jenkins
Founder, Executive Director

A tweet from Kentucky’s sweetheart, Silas House, appeared on my feed the other night stating what most of us LGBTQ+ people have been feeling and saying for quite some time: 

“Shame on Kentucky’s @DanielCameronAG and the other 19 attorney generals for signing onto this discriminatory BS. I am so fed up with bigotry,” the tweet said.

For some reason, this simple statement reignited a flame in my radical queer brain.

Graphical user interface, text, website

Description automatically generated

My life has been dedicated to sharing the totality of Queer experience in Kentucky for the last several years. You’d think I’d be used to this bullshit by now. 

(Of course, I did read the tweet in a prideful — yet stern! — Appalachian accent in my head and I think that inspired the righteous indignation. Thanks, Silas.)

SO, Kentucky’s Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, signed onto an anti-trans lawsuit led by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III (R) along with 19 other conservative states.

The Biden Administration “misconstrued the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision by claiming its prohibition of discrimination applies to locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms under Title IX and Title VII and biological men who identify as women competing in women’s sports,” the Tennessee Attorney General said. 

If you haven’t heard of Bostock, it was a landmark United States Supreme Court civil rights case decided earlier this year in which the Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

When I started processing that t w e n t y states agree that my trans friends and chosen family should be discriminated against — on the heels of learning Texas is basically banning abortion and putting bounties on people’s heads for assisting in an abortion — I manifested my best Natalie Maines energy. Just like Maines and George W. Bush in regards to Texas, many Queer Kentuckians feel so much shame living in the same state as bigoted “leaders” dropping severe hurdles into our lives.

Furthermore, LGBTQ+ Nation reported that “over a hundred anti-LGBTQ bills – mostly targeting transgender youth – were introduced in state legislatures this year, and several passed. Many specifically attacked transgender students who want to play school sports, and the Biden administration has already shown that it’s willing to participate in litigation to protect trans youth.”

The other states signed onto this lawsuit are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

So what does this mean? What now?

Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman said this action by the Kentucky attorney general is on brand.

“It is no surprise that the same attorney general who refused to seek justice for Breonna Taylor would fight for discrimination against LGBTQ+ Kentuckians,” he said. “Fortunately the Supreme Court of the United States, President Biden, Governor Beshear, and the vast majority of Americans and Kentuckians don’t agree with the discriminatory views shared by these attorneys general.” 

Hartman’s words always calm me. They’re supposed to, right? He’s acted as a dear friend and mentor to me for years. He always has the right words to say, and when he foresees shit hitting the fan, he stays honest.

Then WHY do I still have this fear in my chest that these laws can pass? (Is it because I watch way too much Handmaid’s Tale? Maybe! Or it could be because real life can sometimes feel all too much like a dystopian world.)

I think it’s also because of what LGBTQ Nation reported: Several anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed in state legislatures.

According to The Human Rights Campaign, eight anti-LGBTQ bills have already been enacted into law in 2021, and another ten are already on governors’ desks awaiting signatures. This means 2021 is poised to surpass 2015 as the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history, when 15 anti-LGBTQ bills were enacted into law.

The eight laws enacted consist of three anti-trans sports bans in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee; one anti-trans medical care ban bill in Arkansas; and four religious refusals bills in North Dakota, South Dakota, and two bills in Arkansas. See the full breakdown here

So yes, the bills are passing and even becoming law in states, and they will create hurdles and excess trauma for Queer individuals.

We, as Kentuckians, may not have much pull in other states, but we can sure as hell fight here in the Bluegrass. An obvious way to fight: VOTE. Please, please vote.

Take action. Call your representatives. Call Daniel Cameron’s office and voice your opinions. March and make our voices heard.

Corporations, chambers of commerce and tourism departments: are you ready to put your Pride Month rainbows where your mouth is? There is a proposed anti-trans bill ready to hit Frankfort in 2022. I firmly believe that it is your responsibility to speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. 

According to the HRC, ZERO Kentucky corporations have signed onto the Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation. So far, 151 companies have signed the statement stating their clear opposition to harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of LGBTQ people in society. 

Step it up, Kentucky. How many diversity, equity and inclusion committees have our corporations created? This is your chance to make a huge difference in lives of the underrepresented. 

We want our progressive thinkers like Silas House to stay in Kentucky, right? Or do we want to keep pumping out Daniel Camerons?