Thursday, January 25, 2007

Family Foundation of Kentucky SPAM's U.K.

The Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky, an offshoot of the national Family Foundation, targeted the University of Kentucky for unsolicited SPAM yesterday.

The Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky emailed surveys to approximately 9,000 University of Kentucky faculty and staff, asking them about possible health benefits for domestic partners of UK employees, including those of the same sex.

According to the Herald-Leader, the 10-question survey starts with questions on opinions about the domestic-partner benefits, then moves to questions about whether the proposal represents the values of Kentucky citizens, or whether the respondent has felt pressured to support it.

UK research specialist Zina Merkin said she considers the survey a "push poll," designed to influence opinion rather than gauge it. UK officials immediately responded yesterday morning with a blanket e-mail denying any connection to the survey. "We had received a number of concerns from folks, and we were just trying to explain this was not a university-sanctioned survey," said UK spokesman Jay Blanton.

Two weeks ago, a UK committee unanimously voted to offer domestic-partner benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex unmarried couples.

Among some 13,600 UK employees, the proposal eventually could affect about 204 opposite-sex couples and 68 same-sex couples, the committee report said. If the plan is approved, UK would become Kentucky's second state university to offer domestic-partner benefits. The University of Louisville began offering the benefits on Jan. 1.

As we all know, ultra-conservative Republican Stan Lee (R), has pre-filed a bill to ban domestic partner coverage at Kentucky's public universities.

On the website for the Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky, they list the following quote: "Before every legislator votes, Before every governor proposes a plan, Before every judge rules He should ask, 'How is this going to affect the family?'" —Kent Ostrander, Executive Director.

Perhaps it would be best to ask what's fair, just, and equal.

One must wonder if this question was asked about the Women's Liberation Movement, or equal rights for minority groups if they would have ever succeeded. Teaching your "family" that we are all created equal, must live together peacefully and love our neighbors is by far the best family value.

Recommendation: The Family Foundation of Kentucky should change its name to "Return Kentucky to the Stone Age Foundation."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

UCLA study: 61% of incoming freshmen support marriage equality.

A UCLA report released today about the attitudes of college freshmen nationwide says acceptance of same-sex marriage grew between 2005 and 2006.

The study found that 61% of incoming freshmen last year agreed that same-sex couples should have the right to marriage, up 3.3 percentage points from 2005.

Based on a paper questionnaire given to 271,441 first-time, full-time college students at 393 schools nationwide in 2006, the annual survey was conducted as part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program under UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute. The researchers statistically adjusted the data to reflect the demographics of the 1.3 million incoming freshmen entering four-year schools throughout the U.S. in 2006.

The UCLA study surveyed opinions on a variety of social and political issues.

Researchers say today's freshmen are more vocal about their political ideologies than in previous years, with 33.8% saying they've recently discussed politics, up from 25.5% in 2004, when the question was last asked.

The percentage of students identifying themselves as "liberal," 28.4%, is at its highest level since 1975, and those identifying as "conservative," 23.9%, at its highest level in the survey's 40-year history.

However, the majority of 2006's freshman students, 43.3%, consider themselves "middle-of-the-road," the lowest percentage since first measured by the research program in 1970.

Hot-button issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, sharply divide liberals and conservatives, the survey found.

While the majority of freshmen overall support same-sex marriage, the issue divides students along ideological lines. Four out of 5 liberals support same-sex marriage, compared with 1 out of every 3 conservatives.

The common ground between liberals and conservatives can be found on affirmative action in college admissions, where 53% of conservatives and 45% of liberals agree that the practice should be abolished.

The two groups strongly agree in similar proportions that "dissent is a critical component of the political process," supported by 63.2% of conservatives and 66.1% of liberals surveyed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

University of Kentucky Domestic-Partner Benefits.

Though I would rarely post a blog myself, some of the comments and emails Kentucky Equality Federation has received about the University of Kentucky's Domestic Partner Benefits is disturbing. Some Kentucky political blogs have also posted items that are untrue, irrational, and downright childish in the name of progress.

A good rule in both business and politics is to know what you are talking about before you speak. I just had a chance to read the University of Kentucky's Work-Life Committee's Report and associated links/references dated January 15, 2007.

First of all you must understand that the Work-Life Committee didn't throw this report together overnight; a lot of research, feedback, and studies from independent companies influenced their decision. In addition, the Staff Senate, Senate Council as well as the full University Senate each approved resolutions in support of offering benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners.

These developments alone warrant someone taking the time to read the reports before arriving at a personal conclusion. I question the intelligence of any person who would condemn or otherwise attempt to stop something from happening prior to understanding the facts, as well as the substance of an issue.

Here are some interesting facts to keep in mind (taken from the Work-Life Committee's Report):

  • Benefits (such as health insurance) account for a third of a University employees compensation package.
  • Companies now employ a workforce where 49% of households are maintained by unmarried men or women, instead of the married-couple household model upon which benefits are historically based.
  • More than half of the Fortune 500 companies provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.
  • Domestic partner benefits have become commonplace not only nationally, but across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
  • Potential funding for domestic partner healthcare benefits already exists in the University of Kentucky's budget.
  • Opposite-sex domestic partner coverage is projected to be 1-2% while same-sex domestic partner coverage is projected at only 0.5%.
  • People would have to sign affidavit's stating they have been in a relationship with their sole domestic-partner for at least six (6) months.
One Kentucky political blog posted a title stating domestic-partner benefits would cost Kentucky taxpayers $633,000.00 per year. If you read the Committee's Report, this isn't true.

Projected Yearly Cost:
University General Fund: $253,000.00 (40%, already in the University's $68.2 million dollar healthcare budget)
Other Sources: $380,000.00 (60%, this comes from grants, contracts, Athletics, parking, and hospital revenues)

If the University of Kentucky believes they need to extend domestic-partner benefits to remain competitive and (yes, that's right, an additional bonus) it helps insure uninsured Kentuckians, what's wrong with it?

-Jordan Palmer, Kentucky Equality Federation President

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kentuckians Value Equality; 2 Questions.

Please answer the following two (2) questions:

  1. You, your partner, friend, neighbor, or other loved ones can be terminated from a job in Kentucky because of their sexual orientation and it's perfectly legal! The commonwealth provides no protection to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender community in employment, housing, credit, accommodations, or services just to name a few. Do you believe the commonwealth should protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation?

  2. To attract new, talented teachers in Kentucky (and retain the ones we have) colleges and universities across the commonwealth are electing to extend domestic partner benefits to homosexual partners. Is education important to you? Representative Stan Lee (R - Lexington) has filed a bill to prevent Kentucky's Educational Institutions from being able to do this! Do you believe extending domestic partner benefits at Kentucky's Educational Facilities is fair and equal treatment?

If you answered YES to either of the questions above, we need you with us in Frankfort on February 22, 2007!

> Click here to sign-up!

Frequently Asked Questions:

If I attend, does this mean my representative or senator in Frankfort will know I'm LGBT?
A: No. Your sexual orientation is just that, your sexual orientation and entirely your business. Just because you attend doesn't mean you are LGBT, you may simply support fair and equal treatment! 18.3% of Kentucky Equality Federation members are heterosexual supporters!

Q: How important is this event?
A: Critical. We must assemble as many people together as possible to let our government know what we believe to be fair and equal treatment. We must show our legislators we have united to make Kentucky a place blessed with diversity, natural wealth, beauty, And grace from on High as stated in the Kentucky Pledge of Allegiance.

Q: Should I ask others to attend with me?
A: Absolutely! Again, we must assemble as many people together as possible to let our government know what we believe to be fair and equal treatment. We must show our legislators we have united to make Kentucky a place blessed with diversity, natural wealth, beauty, And grace from on High as stated in the Kentucky Pledge of Allegiance.

Q: Who organized this event?
A: Management from the Kentucky Fairness Alliance and the Kentucky Equality Federation began discussing the idea before the Thanksgiving holiday. Management from both organizations agreed to proceed, along with Louisville's Fairness Campaign.

Q: Is there a charge for attending?
A: Absolutely not! Speaking to your legislature and attending a rally is always free! You may however decide to support the Kentucky Equality Federation and showing your solidarity by purchasing one of our new "Kentuckians Value Equality" shirts to wear to the event on February 22, 2007; click
here for details.