Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kentucky Human Rights Commission 2009 Annual Report released

The Commonwealth News Center, the official media center for the Kentucky Government reports that the Kentucky Human Rights Commission annual report was released yesterday:

As has been the case for all of its 49 years, the commission received the most discrimination complaints based on the protected classes of race and color. One-hundred-twenty-five people listed race and color as the reason they were victimized by discriminators. This was still lower than last year’s 158 race and color complaints.

The commission received 322 new cases this year out of which the majority of 82 contained allegations of discrimination based on race and color in employment.

Employment was the number one area in all new cases, with 228 people alleging they suffered discrimination in the workplace. The commission also received 47 complaints in the area of Housing and 47 in the area of Public Accommodations.

Other than race and color, complainants alleged illegal discrimination based on the protected classes of religion, national origin, sex, age (over 40), disability, familial status, and tobacco-smoking status. The last mentioned class is unique to Kentucky, and only one person alleged discrimination in the workplace because of being a smoker.

Yap, that's right; you cannot be fired for being a smoker.... but you can be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity. The wonderful people at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights asked the Kentucky House and Senate to add sexual orientation and gender identity, but of course the Kentucky Senate will not allow anything remotely attached to the word "homosexual" pass into law. (see previous story about the Kentucky Senate)

Kentucky law:

A private employer may not refuse to hire, discharge, or discriminate against an individual because the individual is a smoker or nonsmoker, as long as the person complies with workplace policy concerning smoking. A private employer may not limit, segregate, or classify employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive an individual of employment opportunities because the individual is a smoker or nonsmoker, as long as the person complies with workplace policy concerning smoking. Additionally, a private employer may not require as a condition of employment that any employee or applicant for employment abstain from smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of employment, as long as the person complies with workplace policy concerning smoking.

Unbelievable. So I guess if I am fired for being gay, I'll just claim it was because I am smoker? But then, I would have to start smoking.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama has been busy, but will sign the symbolic Matthew Shepard Act

By: Tony Begley

I admit that along with the rest of the gay community, the contributors here at United We Stand have been tough on U.S. President Obama.

U.S. State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton has done more for LGBTI people since assuming office for the U.S. Department of State... all it takes is her signature and it becomes policy. (previous story# 1), and (previous story # 2)

But, Obama has been extremely busy:

According to the New York Post (source), and CBS’ Mark Knoller: "President Barack Obama has only been in office for just over nine months, but he’s already hit the links as much as President Bush did in over two years. On October 26, 2009 – "Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24. It took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months.”

One cannot help but wonder if the super popular gay blogger, author, and real estate guru Andrew Sullivan's summary of Obama is correct. (previous story # 1), and (previous story # 2)

Let us not forget that the Obama administration decided to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) after being sued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, even as Obama has stated publicly he plans to seek repeal in Congress. (previous story)

President Obama is scheduled to sign Wednesday what is being described as the nation's first significant pro-gay rights legislation. Attached to the defense authorization act, the measure would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to the list of protected classes under the 1969 federal hate-crimes law. But it isn't because he has lobbied for it.

Kentucky has a hate crimes law, and the U.S. Department of Justice has no jurisdiction unless state lines are crossed, and since all states and the U.S. Government (itself a state) are all sovereign, neither enforce the others laws.

The Washington Post reports:

A state can ask the U.S. Justice Department to step in if it lacks a hate-crimes law but feels such charges are warranted (18 states do not have a law addressing hate crimes based on sexual orientation).

The law doesn't outlaw bigotry or "thought crimes." It applies only to "violent acts motivated by" the characteristics of the victim -- acts, not thoughts or speech. But crimes that target someone because of race or sexual orientation are more than offenses against that individual. They can terrorize whole communities.

While this is an advance, more important legislation awaits: banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, ending the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, and allowing same-sex marriage. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) must make it a priority to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama has repeatedly said he'd sign those bills into law.

It's time for Congress to follow through.

It is a disgrace that it has taken Congress
11 years after University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was tortured and left to die on a fence post outside Laramie, Wyoming to act, even though this legislation is more symbolic than anything (unless state lines are crossed) it is still a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Equality in Kentucky is getting closer; the truth about the Kentucky Senate

Want to know why Kentucky doesn't have a statewide law banning discrimination against gay and lesbian people (the entire community, LGBTI) in employment, housing, credit, and accommodations? The answer is simple, Republicans in the Kentucky Senate always defeat the measure, most of the time without the legislation making it out of committee. (previous story)

However, equality and fairness may be closer than you think.

Long time anti-gay Senate President David Williams is slowly, but surely losing control of the Kentucky Senate. Why? Governor Steve Beshear keeps appointing them to executive positions within his cabinet, and under his control. One by one, Republicans are leaving the Kentucky Senate for higher paying jobs in the Executive Branch of Kentucky's Government, or the Judicial Branch.

Kentucky Democrats gained another chance Monday to increase their numbers in the GOP-led state Senate when Gov. Steve Beshear opened up a seat by appointing a longtime Republican senator to serve as a judge.

Beshear, a Democrat, appointed Sen. Dan Kelly to be circuit judge in Kentucky's 11th Judicial Circuit, which represents four counties southeast of Louisville. Republicans held a 20-17-1 lead - including one independent who tends to side with the GOP - in the state Senate before Kelly's departure.

"I made the decision based on his qualifications," Beshear said.

Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican, had predicted that Beshear would appoint Kelly to the judicial vacancy. Williams said at the time Beshear was "poisoning" the state's political atmosphere by dangling jobs to lure Republicans out of the Senate.

Governor Beshear has helped Kentucky's LGBTI community, but he cannot do more (and neither can Senator Stein, Representative Tom Burch, and others until the Senate changes leadership). (previous story)

In Kentucky, you cannot be fired for being a smoker, but you can be fired for being THAT is cheating (what the Family Foundation of Kentucky called Kentucky Equality Federation’s coordination of the 2009 National Freedom to Marry Day in Kentucky). I'm sure the Family Foundation of Kentucky is biting their nails off since they are close to most Republicans in the Kentucky Senate, and almost always testify at Senate Committee hearings.

Look the the following statements below from your Kentucky elected lawmakers (source 1, source 2):
Homosexuality is aberrant behavior. - Senate President David Williams (R) (January 2008) (story, and argument with Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer)

It's OK to fire someone if they're gay. Historically, homosexuals haven't suffered. - Representative Joseph Fischer (R) (October 2006) (story 1, Kentucky Equality Federation leads protest against Statehouse Rep. Joe Fisher during election debate), and (story 2, Kentucky Equality Federation and Kentucky Fairness Alliance slam a Kentucky Representative)

The University of the Cumberlands stands for what is positive [by expelling a gay student]. - Senate President David Williams (R) (August 2006)

I don't want to entice any of those people [queers] into our state. Those are the wrong kind of people. – Senator Dick Roeding (R) (July 2006)

The Log Cabin Republican Club of Kentucky, a gay GOP group, "are nothing but a bunch of queers." - Senator Dick Roeding (R) (July 2006)

I wouldn't think that there would be a lot of support in the General Assembly for giving benefits to people that were involved in same-sex relationships. Doing so would be bad public policy. - Senate President David Williams (R) (July 2006)

I am committed to protecting traditional marriage. I proudly supported the Same-Sex Marriage Amendment proposal in Kentucky in 2004 and was pleased to see it pass with 74% of the vote. - U.S. Representative Geoff Davis (R) [part of Kentucky's Congressional delegation] (July 2006)

Since 2006, Kentucky Equality Federation, Kentucky Fairness Alliance, and the Louisville Fairness Campaign have trained people to lobby their elected officials in Frankfort for complete LGBTI equality; they have a rally in the Capitol Rotunda yearly in support of this.* (source)

Since pro-gay legislation always passes the Kentucky House of Representatives (the Democratic Party has a huge lead in the Kentucky House), will the same happen if Democrats re-take the Kentucky Senate?

Complete equality and fairness for our community could be closer than anyone thinks.

Support Kentucky's LGBTI organizations that lobby and fight for your rights!

* Special Note: The Lexington Chapter is Kentucky Fairness Alliance separated from the organization at some point in 2007 and is now called Lexington Fairness. Lexington Fairness also participated in the 2007 and 2009 lobbying and rallies.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mountain Shopper in Southern Kentucky posts anti-gay article: The Fall of UK because of "homosexuals"

The Mountain Shopper, "The Leader for Buying, Selling and Trading; Community News, and Special Events" has been identified as the paper that published an anti-gay article, effectively blaming gay and lesbian people (or homosexuals as the articles refers to our community) as the reason the University of Kentucky has fallen in national rankings of the top schools.

The article sites many religious references as the reason for the "fall" of the University of Kentucky (UK).

Click here to view the article.

Earlier this month, the article drew criticism from Kentucky Equality Federation and Louisville's Fairness Campaign, especially for the articles religious references.

Kentucky Equality Federation reports that no one from the paper will return telephone calls, or respond to emails.

Do you have something you'd like to say to them?

Phone: (606) 495-1528

Please be sure to read the article first.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Online site refuses gay/lesbian screenplays.

An online site, "Write Like the Pros" lists homosexual screenplays as something they will not accept, and likens it to pornography, and "darkly sinister evil."

The site sells CD's, DVD's, and offers writing tips in addition to them reading your screenplay. They assist in character development, narration, and dialogue.

According to their site:

Submissions should follow normal script structure, using Microsoft Word (no Word Perfect) formatted in Palatino, Times, or Georgia text, black print, sentence case. Work must be e-mailed with the full name, address, and e-mail address of the author. SEND TO

However, they also list the following:

We will not accept, read, or report on any writing that involves pornographic material,
lesbian-homosexual relationships, darkly sinsiter evil, horror, illicit sexual, or vulgar language manuscripts. If there is any question in your mind about your manuscript fitting into one of these categories, please do not send it to us. (source)

Wow. Our relationships are placed in the same category as pornography, darkly sinister evil (they misspelled the word sinister on their site), horror, illicit sexual, and so on.

Constitutionally, they may refuse anything they want, but this is ridiculous. They have closed themselves to a major market and shown their own homophobia.

We received this tip from a straight ally, who stated:

I am not reporting a personal discrimination. I am not actually gay myself - I have a wife. But I am a screenwriter. And I came across a group on the internet (you can view this webpage at: who will not have anything to do with screenplays containing gay relationships if you read the very bottom of this webpage). They seem to give a lot do's and don't in terms of the rules of writing screenplays, but to include that they won't accept screenplays containing gay relationships is absolutely unacceptable in my opinion.

Thanks for the tip, and more importantly, thank you for being open minded and supporting LGBT people!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Are you in favor of amending the Constitution to remove language requiring that separate schools for "white" and "colored" children be maintained?

Did you just suffer from a time warp? Would it surprise you to learn that Kentucky citizens voted on that again in 1996?

Political elites were stunned when a third of those voting, and majorities in five counties, rejected the change.
Poll result in McLean County, KY (they voted in favor of it)

The upcoming 2010 Kentucky Legislative Session gets closer everyday, and this is going to be a LONG session, so be prepared for anti-gay legislation to be filed, and be prepared to fight it. We've had so many hard fought battles over the past several years.

In 2006, conservative Senators in Kentucky filed legislation to "rein in the Kentucky Court of Justice" by limiting judicial review of legislative acts; conservatives wanted to limit the authority of Kentucky Courts in ruling something "unconstitutional." Senate Bill 236 (sponsored by 9 Senators) and stated:

- The judicial department shall not engage in judicial activism through court orders or the issuance of opinions which are intended to advance policy positions, the determinations on which properly belong to the other departments of government.

The judicial department shall not declare any act of the General Assembly unconstitutional or void on the basis of the amount of funds provided for a particular program;

The judicial department shall not construe any provision of this Constitution to permit a local government to grant civil rights entitlements to a class of persons unless authorized by the General Assembly; but courts shall recognize that if the General Assembly authorizes a local government to grant such entitlements to a class of persons based on other than race, color, religion, disability, familial status or national origin, birth, gender, or age, it shall only do so by enacting legislation which specifically identifies the allowable class of persons and entitlements which may be created and conferred.

The judicial department shall not allow a challenge to the constitutionality, validity, or application of any act of the General Assembly. (source)

When you consider the Kentucky 2004 Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, the proposed laws and Constitutional Amendments listed above, is it any wonder why we turn to the Judiciary to protect us (the Kentucky Court of Justice, headed by the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, with subordinate courts such as Drug Court, District Court, Family Court, Circuit Court, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals)?

Obviously, the majority cannot always be trusted to make responsible, moral decisions which is why Kentucky has three (3) Government Branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Millions of soldiers have died (and continue to die everyday) to protect the "idea" that is this Republic; however, so long as conservatives walk all over the Constitution and deny all of her citizens equality, those solders have died defending a dream, not a reality. But they also died defending our right to demand and fight for equality; allow this entry to be a thank you for their sacrifice and bravery.

Special thanks to the students at Eastern Kentucky University and the Univeristy of Kentucky for contributing to this post.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Andrew Sullivan calls for the resignation of HRC President Joe Solmonese

Andrew Sullivan, one of the most influential and popular gay authors, blogger, and reporter is calling for the resignation of the President of the nations self proclaimed 'largest' gay rights organization, HRC President Joe Solmonese.

Solmonese, who draws a salary of nearly $500,000.00 per year has yet to comment.

Who is Andrew Sullivan? Andrew Sullivan wrote his blog for a year at Time Magazine, shifting in 2007 to The Atlantic, where it received approximately 40 million page views in the first year. He is the former editor of The New Republic and the author of five books.

NOTE: HRC has been accused of overstating the number of actual members in order to appear more influential in politics. (source 1), (source 2). HRC refuses to release the count of current, dues-paying members. (source3)

Andrew Sullivan stated:

Joe Solmonese's disgraceful email actually took all pressure off him [the Obama Administration] by saying he'd be happy to wait till 2017 for HRC to hold Obama accountable. HRC are putting pressure, as they always have, on gay people to go to the back of the line and be grateful a president attends their fundraising event. The only word for this is a racket. And if gay people do not rise up and demand change from this organization and stop funding a group whose goal has always been to sell the Democrats to gay people rather than secure civil rights, then they will continue to suffer the discrimination they live under day after day.

Click here to read the entire article on "The Daily Dish," one of the highest rated LGBTI blogs on the internet.

Sullivan continues:

All I can say is: the president gave a speech he could have given at any point in the last three years. No one in that room could disagree with any of the things he said. I sure don't (with the exception of the hate crimes hooey). And he said it well and movingly. Like we didn't know he could do that.

But the point of electing a president who pledged to actually do things is to hold him to account, and to see if he is willing to take any risk of any kind to actually do something. I had a few prior tests of his seriousness or signs that he gets it, a few ways to judge if this speech had anything new or specific or clear. He failed every test.

To wit:

He says he will end Don't Ask Don't Tell but he has done nothing, and he offered no time-line, no deadline HRC for action and no verifiable record that he has done anything, despite his claims that he has.

He says he is ending the HIV ban, but it is still in force, a year and a half after it was signed by George W. Bush and passed by massive majorities in both houses.

He says he favors equality for gay couples but said nothing tonight to support the initiatives in Maine or in Washngton State or the struggle in Washington DC for marriage equality. That's a test of real sincerity on this matter. He failed it.

He says he wants to end discrimination in employment even as he is firing more gay people solely for being gay than any other employer in the country - as commander-in-chief. And if an employer is firing gay people all the time, is it tolerable to accept as a response that he will stop doing it one day - but gives no time-line at all to hold him to?

Look: I didn't expect these issues to be front and center given his appalling inheritance; I know he has many other things on his plate; I didn't expect the moon; I didn't believe he would do any of this immediately; I understand that the real job is for us to do, not him, and that most of the action is in the states. And I remain a strong supporter of him in foreign policy and in the way he is clearly trying to move this country past the ideological divides of the recent past.

But the sad truth is: he is refusing to take any responsibility for his clear refusal to fulfill clear campaign pledges on the core matter of civil rights and has given no substantive, verifiable pledges or deadlines by which he can be held accountable. What that means, I'm afraid, is that this speech was highfalutin bullshit. There were no meaningful commitments within a time certain, not even a commitment to fulfilling them in his first term; just meaningless, feel-good commitments that we have no way of holding him to. Once the dust settles, ask yourself. What did he promise to achieve in the next year? Or two years? Or four years? The answer is: nothing.

Do you agree or disagree? Comments?

Kentucky Equality Federation, Marriage Equality Kentucky, and Kentucky Equality PAC refused to comment on this blog entry stating they had "no official position." The United We Stand blog however maintains editorial independence even though we are the 'endorsed' blog of these organizations. - Julie Fite

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Louisville's Fairness Campaign wants to boycott Woody's Tavern, but Woody's may not be legally operating in Kentucky

After David P. Norton apologized in August for racist and sexist comments made about a year ago, Louisville's Fairness Campaign, a champion for LGBTI civil rights in Jefferson County, is again boycotting the bar owned by David Norton.

David Norton, owner of Woody’s Tavern, went public in August to apologize for comments made a year ago to University of Louisville students and a professor, saying “What came out of my mouth was pure filth.” Now, the Fairness Campaign is pushing for a boycott of his bar, Woody’s Tavern, because of more racist comments he allegedly made there last month.

Checkout their inactive Myspace profile, and the graphics on it. (more)

We conducted a search for Woody's Tavern with the Corporation's Division of the Kentucky Department of State and found no business in the Commonwealth currently or previously incorporated under the name "Woody's Tavern," nor it is listed as an assumed named of any business authorized to transact business in Kentucky, a violation of Kentucky law.

According to Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control, David P. Norton holds the alcohol license for Woody's Tavern, and is doing business as "Woody's Tavern," even though he is not registered (and therefore, not authorized) to transact business in Kentucky.

David P. Norton leases Woody's Tavern (the actual site), and even if he is incorporated in Indiana or any other state, he is still in violation of Kentucky law and not authorized to transact business in Kentucky because he has failed to register as a foreign corporation with the Kentucky Secretary of State.

You can get into serious trouble for doing business in Kentucky and not being registered, and thus, authorized. (see Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals No. 2005-CA-000196-MR)

When not authorized to transact business in Kentucky, or if the Secretary of State revokes your authority to do business in Kentucky, you are personally liable for your actions; there is no "corporate veil" to protect you (a corporation is treated as a separate legal person, which is solely responsible for the debts it incurs and the sole beneficiary of the credit it is owed).

From the Kentucky Department of State:

Who must file an Annual Report?
Each domestic and foreign corporation, domestic and foreign limited liability company, domestic and foreign partnership, and domestic and foreign business trust must file an Annual Report.

Why must I file an Annual Report?
To assist the Secretary of State in providing the most accurate information to the public, corporations and companies conducting business in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are required by law to file annual reports with the Secretary of State. Failure to file an Annual Report by June 30 will result in a status of bad standing. Failure to file the report by Oct. 31st will result in administrative dissolution or revocation of authority.

Also, the Kentucky Attorney General's Office may pursue and fine companies doing business in the Commonwealth who are not properly registered, or their certificate of authority from the Kentucky Secretary of State's Office has been revoked.

Regardless, if the owner is making sexual and/or racial slurs, as a community we should stand united and boycott it.