I think both Christmas and the coming New Year must be a time of renewal, of hope and determination to work for a better Kentucky, United States, and world..... where people can experience all the liberties our founding fathers fought for. Therefore, wherever inequality exists and the leaders that are in control refuse to act, there is a greater responsibility for all of us to take a stand against all that dehumanizes the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. I had hoped the New Year in Kentucky, with a new gubernatorial administration that has to be an improvement over that of the discredited Gov. Ernie Fletcher would start out in an encouraging manner for those of us who believe in equality for everyone regardless of sexual orientation.
The flag of the Commonwealth of Kentucky says it best: "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." Thank you to everyone who contributed and/or donated to Kentucky Equality Federation.
An enormous fight is in front of us in 2008; front and center is the issue of domestic-partner benefits in the Kentucky Retirement System, as outlined by James:
Alas, that is not to be. Just as Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo were sworn in and starting to look around their respective offices, members of their own Democratic party were filing legislation to prevent state universities from offering health care benefits to employees involved in domestic partnerships.
I had hoped that the year 2008 might be a year where those of us who believe in gender and sexual orientation equity would be able to take some steps forward in adding on to rights already achieved --- things like hate crime protection, access to marriage/civil union rights, adoption, automatic rights of inheritance --- instead of having to backtrack and re-fight battles already won.
A few legislators --- led by Democratic Reps. Ancel Smith and Richard Henderson --- do not understand that Kentucky has always been --- and still is --- a place where all people should be welcome to live in harmony.
It is clear that Smith and Henderson, in bringing up a previously defeated proposal to block public universities in Kentucky from extending health benefits to unmarried, live-in partners of the institutions' employees, acted without the sanction of their own party. This has caused an embarrassing situation not only for party leaders, but for Democratic leaders and other party members within the Beshear administration.
Trustees at several Kentucky institutions, led by the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, have approved offering health care to domestic partners of unmarried employees as a matter of good business. The policy makes the universities more competitive with other top universities nationwide, because it opens the pool of potential employees and appeals to the increasing number of private employers --- who can be drawn upon for financial support and to provide cooperative educational opportunities and investment with the universities --- who already extend health care benefits to live-in partners of workers, regardless of sexual orientation.
In other words, the universities' policies are good business for a state that is on the precipice of a new era of economic progress after four failed years of an administration that collapsed under its own prejudices and lack of vision.
The matter of inclusion is a moral and ethical issue. Moral, because all great religions preach that love and tolerance should trump all other rules for living. Ethical, because this country --- and the states that make it up --- was based on the premise that all people are created equal.
If our government creates policies that benefit its public employees, it should do so for all the employees, without discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, and yes, sexual orientation.
If these representatives --- and the other Democrats and Republicans who co-sponsored this legislation, which has its roots soaked in bigotry --- will not withdraw their sponsorship, then the people of their districts should look for gay-supportive candidates from either party to replace them.
Click here to read unedited comments from James.
I had hoped the New Year in Kentucky, with a new gubernatorial administration that has to be an improvement over that of the discredited Gov. Ernie Fletcher would start out in an encouraging manner for those of us who believe in equality for everyone regardless of sexual orientation.