Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Steak n' Shake manager in Louisville, KY told Kentucky Equality Federation members "fags you gotta go." **CONTAINS UPDATED INFORMATION**

Louisville, KY August 22, 2006 -- Kentucky Equality Federation* [formerly called Kentucky Equality Association, both names are registered with the Kentucky Secretary of State] members were verbally abused and refused service at a Steak n’ Shake in Louisville, KY because of their sexual orientation. Scott Kays and three of his friends entered the Steak n’ Shake at 3232 Bardstown Road at approximately 2:45 AM EST on August 21, 2006 and was told "fags you gotta go," after seating themselves according to Kays, an official, voting member of the Federation.

"I hope the citizens of the commonwealth truly see the discrimination the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community goes through," stated Jordan Palmer, president of Kentucky Equality. "We’ve had a student expelled from college, dedicated and patriotic citizens kicked out of the military, and intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity; this is not the equal treatment and representation this country was founded to represent."

The district manager for the Steak n' Shake on Bardstown Road told Kentucky Equality the company did not discriminate, and that the Bardstown Road location had a diverse staff.

Kentucky Equality Federation had planned to file a discrimination charges against the company, an action that has since been placed on hold pending the stores investigation into the incident. Kentucky Equality has been very satisfied and impressed with the level of cooperation and attentiveness to the issue from Steak n' Shake's corporate office.

Palmer also stated that though this incident does not reflect Stake n' Shake's corporate culture, is a perfect example of why legislation should be in place to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the areas of housing, credit, public accommodations, and employment.

* Kentucky Equality Association changed its primary trade name to Kentucky Equality Federation on August 21, 2006 after becoming an official member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

UPDATE -- CONCLUSION: Kentucky Equality has been satisfied with Steak n' Shake's level of cooperation and attentiveness to the issue, intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity. All three corporate representatives have advised Kentucky Equality that the LGBT community is welcome in all of their locations.

Overall, the company has responded to our investigation and requests for information in a very friendly, positive fashion; they've been rather impressive.

Intolerance will follow us everywhere; we cannot allow one individual to undermine our efforts. From a "first look," if other companies leaped into action as quickly as they have, our work environments would be much, much better.

An additional update will be posted tomorrow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Kentucky Equality Praises Progress; New Federal Pension Law Includes Measures for the LGBT Community.

The Kentucky Equality Federation (formerly officially called Kentucky Equality Association) sent letters of praise to U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R) from the State of Oregon, and U.S. Representative Benjamin L. Cardin (D) from the State of Maryland for their strong support of the new Federal Pension Protection Act, and U.S. President George Bush for signing the legislation into law.

The letter campaign also included letters to Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign whose organization lobbied Congress to pass the measure, and David Ratcliffe, National co-leader of Merrill Lynch's LGBT Professional Network.

The legislation, with strong bipartisan support received final approval on August 3, 2006.

The first provision allows the transfer of an individual's retirement plan benefits to a domestic partner or other non-spouse beneficiary including a sibling or parent when the individual dies. Specifically, the surviving partner, or other non-spouse beneficiary, will now be able to transfer his or her deceased partner's retirement funds into an Individual Retirement Account and either draw down the benefits over a five-year period, or over his or her own life expectancy.

In the past, surviving same-sex partners or other non-spouse beneficiaries in similar situations were typically forced to withdraw the entire amount as a lump sum and incur immediate tax charges. In addition, this action often bumped the survivor into a higher tax bracket because the withdrawal was counted as taxable income to the beneficiary.

The second provision, which addresses retirement plan hardship distributions, allows gay couples and others with non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries, similar access to laws that permit people to draw on their retirement funds in the case of a qualifying medical or financial emergency. In the past, the federal law covered only the spouses or dependents of employees when it came to accessing retirement funds during an emergency.

Though we have yet to find common ground on various other issues, it is good to see that Congress hasn’t forgotten their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered constituents in other areas of the law,” stated Paige D. Marks, general counsel for Kentucky Equality.

Jordan Palmer, president of the Kentucky Equality Federation stressed the importance of praising elected officials when they take positive steps toward progress. “I’m certain these officials will come under fire from ultra-conservatives; all the more reason they need our praise, so that we’re not just contacting them to complain about something,” stated Palmer.

The Kentucky Equality Federation also thanked the following state delegates to the federal government for their bipartisan support, including former U.S. Representative Rob Portman (R-OH), U.S. Representative Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ways & Means Committee Chairman Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA), U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), U.S. Senator Max Baucus (R-MT), and U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Political Candidate Ratings; A List of the Rights LGBT People are DENIED!

Did you know? For the record, see all the rights you're denied.

There is nothing within the sovereign borders of this commonwealth that validates, protects or encourages our existence.

* Accidental death benefit for the surviving spouse of a government employee;
* Appointment as guardian of a minor;
* Beneficial owner status of corporate securities;
* Bill of Rights benefits for victims and witnesses;
* Consent to post-mortem examination;
* Control, division, acquisition, and disposition of community property
* Criminal injuries compensation;
* Death benefit for surviving spouse for government employee
* Disclosure of vital statistics records;
* Eligibility for housing opportunity allowance program of the Housing, Finance and Development Corporation;
* Exemption from claims of Department of Human Services for social services payments, financial assistance, or burial payments;
* Exemption from conveyance tax;
* Funeral leave for government employees;
* Income tax deductions, credits, rates exemption, and estimates;
* Insurance licenses, coverage, eligibility, and benefits organization of mutual benefits society;
* Legal status with partner's children;
* Making partner medical decisions;
* Payment of wages to a relative of deceased employee;
* Payment of worker's compensation benefits after death;
* Permission to make arrangements for burial or cremation;
* Public assistance from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services;
* Right to change names;
* Right to inherit property;
* Rights and proceedings for involuntary hospitalization and treatment;
* Spousal privilege and confidential marriage communications;
* Tax relief for natural disaster losses;

The commonwealth currently has no laws to protect homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people from discrimination in:
* Employment
* Housing
* Public Accommodations
* Credit

This is why it is critical that Kentuckians go to the polls in November. Please remember these candidates when you vote. The following Kentucky candidates seeking re-election have received an "F" Kentucky Equality Rating; these candidates have either sponsored or proposed anti-gay laws.

SENATE DISTRICT 16 - COUNTIES: Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne, Whitley
Senate President David L. Williams

James R. Carr (R) In office since 2005

Sheldon E. Baugh (R) In office since 1995

HOUSE DISTRICT 19 - COUNTIES: Edmonson, Hart, Larue
Terry Shelton (R)

HOUSE DISTRICT 27 - COUNTIES: Bullitt, Hardin, Meade
Gerry Lynn (R) - In office since 2005

Mary Harper (R) - In office since 2001

Russ Mobley (R) - In office since 2001

HOUSE DISTRICT 54 - COUNTIES: Boyle, Washington
Mike Harmon (R) - In office since 2003

Brad Montell (R)

Joseph M. Fischer (R) - In office since 1999

HOUSE DISTRICT 94 - COUNTIES: Harlan, Letcher, Pike
Howard Cornett (R) - In office since 1999