Friday, March 27, 2009

Kentucky lawmakers adjourn; Senate Bill 68 remained dead

The 2009 Kentucky Legislative Session is officially over.

As Kentucky Equality Federation predicted, Senate Bill 68 died before the recess.

The Great Hall in the Kentucky Capitol (pictured) is finally empty of anti-equality lawmakers, who will not be back in full force until the 2010 Legislative Session (unless serving on an Interim Committees).

Though we can celebrate for now, we must be prepared for similar legislation to be filed next year. Remember, the 2010 Legislative Session (which begins in January) will be a
long session.

What can you do to help?
One of the most important things you can do is sign-up for email alerts. Though equality is important to all of us, we also realize you have a million other things to do other than read emails from us several times per week; as a result, is very selective about the emails sent from this site.

After signing-up for email alerts, you may also:

Kentucky Equality Federation and Marriage Equality Kentucky are still looking for Outreach Directors to represent members of the LGBTI community (Black, Transgender, Intersex, Immigration, Asian, Seniors, Medical, Faith, and LGBTI Parents), that too often have not been included, either in positions of leadership or in public education.

Vermont Governor promoses to veto same-sex marriage bill

Calling the issue "a distraction," Governor Jim Douglas declared that he would veto the same-sex marriage bill working its way through the State of Vermont's Legislature. According to The Burlington Press Press:

The move surprised many, as Governor Douglas normally steadfastly refuses to comment on whether he will veto a bill until after it has made its way through the Legislature. The same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate this week, with a 26-4 vote, but the House Judiciary Committee had just started taking testimony Tuesday.

Opponents of the bill cheered Douglas’ announcement, while supporters argued that he should have waited until the debate had played out. “Thank you, Jim,” said the Rev. Craig Bensen of Cambridge, founder of Take it to the People, a same-sex-marriage opposition group.

“I am deeply disappointed that the governor has interfered with this process at this time,” said Rep. William Lippert, D-Hinesburg, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who said as a gay person the legislation has deep personal meaning to him. “We will finish our work.”

While the legislation is expected to pass the House, supporters might not have the votes needed to override a veto.

Douglas said the decision was a deeply personal one. “I believe marriage should remain between a man and a woman,” he said. “That’s my belief.”

He said he believes civil unions, which Vermont was the first state to adopt in 2000 granting same-sex couples the rights of marriage, “serves Vermont well, and I would support congressional action to extend those benefits at the federal level to states that recognize same-sex unions.”

Same-sex marriage advocates have argued that civil unions do not offer the same rights, particularly because the concept is unknown and unaccepted outside the state. New York state, for example, recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere but does not recognize civil unions. Douglas said he can only worry about laws in his own state.

Beth Robinson, of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, said she was surprised by Douglas’ announcement. “By his comments, he’s made clear he doesn’t understand the impact of the laws on gay and lesbian Vermonters,” she said.

Legislative leaders complained that Douglas is circumventing the legislative process.

“I’ve not actually had this happen before,” said House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown. “It seems to me that announcing a decision before the process has played out is essentially undermining our democratic system of government.”

Asked whether Douglas’ decision will make it harder for supporters of the bill to lure those who are on the fence, Smith said simply, “I don’t know.”

Douglas said in his 3½-minute statement, “I’m sure that legislative leaders would not have advanced this bill if they didn’t have the votes to override a veto,” but that question remains unanswered.

Smith wouldn’t address whether he has the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. If all 150 members of the House were present, it would take 100 votes to override a veto.

Supporters of the legislation have privately said they doubt they have that. However, George Schiavone, a former Republican representative from Shelburne who is lobbying members to vote against the bill, said he’s not so sure. “It’s within shooting distance,” he said of an override.

A veto override can be difficult to predict, as members might vote one way on the bill but then support their party caucus on an override vote. Democrats, Progressives and independents together have 102 members in the House. Republicans have 48 members.

Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said a veto would not make the issue of same-sex marriage go away in Vermont. “You can’t stop it,” he said. “It’s coming back.”

Friday, March 20, 2009

Apparently the end of the world is near because of gay marriage

Another year, another legislative session, another battle for who has the right to marry...... the State of Minnesota is currently in the spotlight. Apparently the end of the world is near because of gay marriage (according to the Minnesota Family Council).

Related: Kentucky Equality Federation's President comments about "family associations and foundations."

The Minnesota Family Council has rolled out an amendment to ban gay marriage and has put together a coalition of religious leaders.

Minnesota has rejected the same amendment in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but this time these leaders are taking a new approach and are saying Minnesotans need to support their
amendment because it will stop the world from ending.

“We see this as a pivotal issue to life, not just for our nation but the life we have known for 3,000 years,” Pastor Tom Parrish said.

Just when you think you've heard everything...... a religious leader makes a statement like that setting us back decades in equality, social acceptance, and tolerance (not to mention separation of Church and State).

Rabbi Moshe Feller said at Tuesday morning’s press conference … “Homosexual unions are forbidden and cannot be licensed with the term marriage.” Republican House member Dan Severson added: “The legislature needs to listen to these voices that have come out today and stop assaulting marriage.”

Laws have been introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate to allow same sex couples to marry by making marriage gender-neutral.

"If everyone is a gay, this world will cease to exist in 10 years," Muslim leader Ikram Ulhuk said.

- 10 Years! Only 10 Years? What is going to happen to the 6.4 billion people currently on the planet?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

6 Years and a new U.S. Gov. Administration later, the U.S. will sign United Nations declaration to protect gay and lesbian people worldwide

The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign. The declaration has been placed for a vote several times and the United States voted with states such as Egypt, Syria, and Iran to oppose it!

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) has pushed the declaration for years. The United Nations may finally catch-up with the Organization of American States if the declaration is passed (story).

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) is a United Nations Non-Government Observer. Kentucky Equality Federation joined the International Lesbian and Gay Association in 2006.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration's French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter.
The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress was still being notified of the decision. They said the administration had decided to sign the declaration to demonstrate that the United States supports human rights for all.

"The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world," said one official. "As such, we join with the other supporters of this statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora," the official said.

The official added that the United States was concerned about "
violence and human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual individuals" and was also "troubled by the criminalization of sexual orientation in many countries."

"In the words of the United States Supreme Court, the right to be free from criminalization on the basis of sexual orientation 'has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom'," the official said.

Gay rights and other groups had criticized the Bush administration when it refused to sign the declaration when it was presented at the United Nations on Dec. 19. U.S. officials said then that the U.S. opposed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but that parts of the declaration raised legal questions that needed further review.

According to negotiators, the Bush team had concerns that those parts could commit the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In some states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military.

When it was voted on in December, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the declaration — which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with anti-gay discrimination.
But 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality — and in several, homosexual acts can be punished by execution.

More than 50 nations, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, opposed the declaration.
Some Islamic countries said at the time that protecting sexual orientation could lead to "the social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts" such as pedophilia and incest. The declaration was also opposed by the Vatican.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kentucky Presbyterian Church votes to overturn gay minister ban

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that commissioners of the Presbytery of Transylvania voted 83-61 Tuesday to approve the amendment. The presbytery includes 56 Kentucky counties.

The church has considered such amendments several times since 1996, but all have failed. A close vote is expected this year.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When I woke up this morning and decided to be gay

The Charleston City Paper has a great article written by Sally Albright: "When I woke up this morning and decided to be gay."

Um, can I change my order, please? I choose eggs with a side of civil rights.

Maybe all of this choice stuff comes from the choice to come out. And that, I'll give you, is a conscious choice.

But it's not a choice about liking girls better than boys. Or being a Carolina fan as opposed to a Clemson fan. It's a choice to tell the truth about who you love and who you are, to live honestly, openly, and authentically and continue evolving into the best you possible.

How about this frightening choice? A Kentucky Senate committee has unanimously chosen to approve a bill that would prohibit unmarried couples from adopting children or being foster parents. If you're keeping track, that doesn't just affect the GLBT community, it affects unmarried straight couples too. Meaning, even Angelina and Brad couldn't adopt in Kentucky if this hateful little bill passes.


And when my alarm sounds, I will sit up, swing my legs over the side of the bed in the early morning light, take a deep breath, and say, "Universe, I'm SALLY ALBRIGHT, and I choose me." (It's more invigorating than coffee.)

Read the entire article here:

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Senate Bill 68 - Unmarried, Anti-Gay Adoption Ban Passed Senate Committee

Senate Bill 68 - We all knew it would pass the Senate Committee if it came to a vote. We also know it can pass the Senate without any problem. It passed unanimously in Committee today, with only the Family Foundation of Kentucky testifying in support of it; no one was present to oppose it. Why? Apparently this was a secret meeting, or one called at the last minute from the way I understand it.

The truth is that even if representatives from Kentucky Equality Federation or any other LGBTI organization had been present, we likely would not have been allowed to speak. I've been at the Capitol before when management of Kentucky Fairness Alliance wanted to testify about some anti-gay legislation and the Senate Committee would not hear
any of us.

If it makes it to the House of Representatives, I'm sure it will be assigned to the House Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, which is chaired by Representative Tom Burch (D), a wonderful elected official from Louisville.

In addition, the Kentucky Legislature adjourns in less than 6 business days (next Friday). That is not enough time for it to do anything in the House.

Again, we knew this could happen, and that if the Senate wanted to pass the measure, they could easily; getting it through the House is another matter! Please also keep in mind the Governor retains veto power.

I'm sure the people at the Family Foundation of Kentucky will sleep well tonight knowing they tried to keep children out of loving homes; both from since straight people, and loving gay couples.

California vigils (videos) around the entire state; you must watch these!

The eyes of our entire Republic are on the State of California (largest state by population with over 40 million citizens) again; watch these moving and informative videos:

James Brosnahan

Cleve Jones

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Illinois Latest Site of LDS Church’s Nationwide Anti-Gay Crusade; HRC Launches Grassroots Effort in Illinois to Refute Bigoted Claims

A recap if the story is below from HRC. Click here to visit the HRC site and read the entire story.

So what about Kentucky? It should concern Kentucky Equality Federation, Kentucky Fairness Alliance, Lexington Fairness, and Fairness Campaign that Kentucky has a lot of LDS Churches in Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky.

They didn't get involved in Senate Bill 68, but that is not to say they cannot or will not get involved in the future.

“It is irrefutably clear that the LDS Church is fighting an anti-gay crusade throughout the nation, targeting any form of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” said Bruce Bastian, Board of Director for the Human Rights Campaign and former member of the LDS Church. “Church leaders want nothing more than to do their hateful work in secrecy, but the time has come to shine a light on their insidious efforts. If the LDS Church won't tell the truth, we will.”

The e-mail, sent to at least one LDS ward in Illinois, was authorized by Bishop Chris Church, of the Nauvoo, Illinois 3rd Ward, and was sent out by that website’s ward administrator. The messaging in the e-mail carries many of the same bigoted lies that were hallmarks of the LDS Church’s campaign in support of Proposition 8 in California and Proposition 102 in Arizona. The e-mail misleads citizens in Illinois by blatantly misstating that the civil unions legislation would “empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise.” It goes on to issue this incendiary and inaccurate warning – “it will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores.” The e-mail was uncovered by, a website that tracks and monitors anti-gay rhetoric. The contents of the e-mail are posted online at

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (HB 2234) has been scheduled for a hearing in the Illinois House of Representatives Youth and Family Committee this week on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. in Springfield, IL.

In response to this secret action by the LDS Church, the Human Rights Campaign today launched a full scale, online grassroots call to action to its more than 35,000 Illinois based members and supporters. The take-action asks members to contact the Nauvoo, Illinois Mormon Temple and let them know these deceitful, fear-mongering tactics can no longer be done in secret. It also encourages pro-equality voters of Illinois to contact their state elected officials to voice their support of HB 2234. The full online action that was sent to over 35,000 pro-equality Illinoisans can be viewed at:


“Despite the Mormon Church’s attempt to not appear publicly bigoted against the social justice issue of our time, it is perfectly clear that the church has in its cross-hairs any measure that recognizes the humanity and dignity of LGBT Americans,” continued Bastian.

Illinois citizens can visit Equality Illinois to sign their action alert, or visit the Human Rights Campaign website here.

Additional information can be found on the HRC Blog, Back Story by clicking here.

Fairness Rally and Lobby Day in Frankfort, KY

Dozens arrived early last Wednesday morning to lobby their state legislators before the Kentuckians Value Fairness rally in Frankfort. Over 150 attended the rally hosted by Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Kentucky Equality Federation, Kentucky Fairness Alliance and Lexington Fairness.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

If gay marriage is recognized by the Commonwealth; the federal government must comply?

Breaking News:

Mary Ritchie, a Massachusetts State Police trooper, has been married for almost five years and has two children. But when she files her federal income tax return, she's not allowed to check the "married filing jointly" box.

That's because Ritchie and her spouse, Kathleen Bush, are a gay couple, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act makes them ineligible to file joint tax returns.

Now Ritchie, Bush and more than a dozen others are suing the federal government, claiming the act discriminates against gay couples and is unconstitutional because it denies them access to federal benefits that other married couples receive, such as pensions and health insurance. Plaintiffs also include Dean Hara, the widower of former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of the House of Representatives.

The lawsuit was being filed Tuesday in federal court in Boston by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the anti-discrimination group that brought a successful legal challenge leading to Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation to legalize gay marriage in 2004.

Only Massachusetts and Connecticut allow gay marriage. Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire allow civil unions.

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was enacted by Congress in 1996 when it appeared Hawaii would soon legalize same-sex marriage and opponents worried that other states would be forced to recognize such marriages. The new lawsuit challenges only the portion of the law that prevents the federal government from affording Social Security and other benefits to same-sex couples.

Mary Bonauto, GLAD's Civil Rights Project director, said the lawsuit is the first major challenge to the section of the law that denies same-sex couples access to more than 1,000 federal programs and legal protections in which marriage is a factor.

All the plaintiffs are from Massachusetts and have marriages that are recognized by the Commonwealth. They include a U.S. Postal Service employee who wasn't allowed to add her spouse to her health insurance plan; a Social Security Administration retiree who was denied health insurance for his spouse; three widowers who were denied death benefits for funeral expenses; and a man who has been denied a passport bearing his married name.

A little more background: The legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States are complicated by the nation's federal system of government. Traditionally, the federal government did not attempt to establish its own definition of marriage; any marriage recognized by a state was recognized by the federal government, even if that marriage was not recognized by one or more other states (as was the case with interracial marriage before 1967 due to anti-miscegenation laws). With the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, however, a marriage was explicitly defined as a union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law. (See 1 U.S.C. § 7.) Thus, no act or agency of the federal government currently recognizes same-sex marriage.

According to the federal government's Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 1,138 rights and protections are conferred to U.S. citizens upon marriage by the federal government; areas affected include Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, health insurance, Medicaid, hospital visitation, estate taxes, retirement savings, pensions, family leave, and immigration law.

However, many aspects of marriage law affecting the day to day lives of inhabitants of the United States are determined by the states, not the federal government, and the Defense of Marriage Act does not prevent individual states from defining marriage as they see fit; indeed, most legal scholars believe that the federal government cannot impose a definition of marriage onto the laws of the various states by statute.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Kentucky Equality Federation continues Community Outreach and Support Expansion

Kentucky Equality Federation continues community outreach with additional Outreach Directors.

Please visit our Community Outreach Section for additional information, and join the Community Group that fits you:

We currently have Outreach Directors and Community Communication/Support Groups for the following: Latino/a, Transgender, Youth (Middle and High School), and University!

Kentucky Equality Federation and Marriage Equality Kentucky are still looking for Outreach Directors (or Assistant Outreach Directors, respectively) to represent members of Kentucky's LGBTI community who are often not included, either in positions of leadership or in public education:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Latino
  • Transgender
  • Intersex
  • Immigration
  • Seniors
  • Medical
  • Faith
  • LGBTI Parents
  • Youth, and
  • University