After a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed across the nation in 2023, LGBTQ+ Americans have already seen 125+ anti-trans bills filed within the first week of 2024. In Kentucky, where the community is still navigating 2023’s Senate Bill 150, one of the strictest anti-trans bills in the country, Queer Kentucky is closely following the 2024 General Assembly for other LGBTQ+-targeted bills.
Also at play is the potential for anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric to become a major theme in this upcoming election year. In Kentucky, all 100 state house seats and half of the state senate seats (19) are up for election. In what can be seen as a response to last year’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, there was a number of LGBTQ+ candidates filing prior to the deadline. Here are four races to watch featuring LGBTQ+ Kentuckians running for the Kentucky State House or State Senate:
Current State House Rep. Keturah Herron, D-Louisville of District 42, who made history as the first openly LGBTQ+ individual ever elected to the Kentucky Statehouse, is not running for reelection in the statehouse and instead announced her candidacy for the seat Senator Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, who is not seeking reelection, currently holds. As a candidate for Senate District 35, per her release, she will work to address the epidemic of gun violence by pushing for an Office of Community Safety, fully restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people, continue to work to pass a statewide fairness law, and deliver badly needed investments in public education—including pay raises for teachers and universal pre-K.
Adding to the chorus of Jefferson County LGBTQ+ voices is Carma Bell Marshall, D-Louisville, running for District 31. Marshall, a trans woman born and raised in Shelbyville, will face a primary opponent in this race. Marshall’s entry into the political arena reflects the growing diversity within the LGBTQ+ community seeking representation in Kentucky’s legislative bodies. Her campaign is focusing on equality, LGBTQIA+ rights and protections, mental health resources and access, women’s rights, and racial justice.
South of Jefferson County, Meade County native Tyler Chapman, D-Ekron, has filed for House District 27 which includes Battletown, Brandenburg, Ekron, Flaherty, Muldraugh, Payneville, and Radcliff. Chapman’s background is in banking operations, and according to his website, he “has consistently demonstrated his commitment to improving outdated processes, streamlining procedures, and simplifying tasks by implementing common sense solutions for both his team and hardworking families seeking effective management of their finances. His transformative efforts have directly contributed to making financial matters more accessible and manageable for his community.”
In Northern Kentucky, Brandon Long, D-Fort Thomas, a father, Christian, and conversion therapy survivor, has filed to run in House District 68. Long, a native of Harlan County is building his platform on the principles of new representation, visionary leadership, prioritizing kids first, protecting education, and supporting effective governance in partnership with the Governor. Long was a frequent visitor to Frankfort last year, and has been engaged in public service as a second-grade teacher, active volunteer in the Elks, Kiwanis, Boy Scout leader, and soccer coach. He is also an ordained minister and Director of Education at Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington.
Against the backdrop of these candidacies, it’s crucial to acknowledge the challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces in Kentucky. Last year saw a disturbing surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, with 510 bills nationwide, and this year has the potential to be just as devastating for our community. To help our audience stay informed during the 2024 Kentucky General Assembly, Queer Kentucky is preparing to launch our first project focused on increasing civic engagement and literacy in the LGBTQ+ community. We have hired our first political correspondent so make sure to follow us on your favorite social media platform, and also sign up for our newsletter, to stay up-to-date on crucial and impactful LGBTQ+ news from Frankfort.
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