Dir. of Fairness Campaign responds to county clerks; talks strategy for LGBT equality in Ky.

07/09/2015 06:20 PM

As county clerks ask for a special session and some lawmakers contemplate changes to statute to accommodate clerk’s religious beliefs over same-sex marriages, the Kentucky Fairness Campaign plans to expand their push for equal protections under the law.

A small group of county clerks in Kentucky have opted to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples which in one case have prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky to file suit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis on behalf of two homosexual couples and two heterosexual couples who were denied marriage licenses.

Clerks in the state have also banned together recently to ask for a special legislative session to pass a work-around the Supreme Court’s law, in essence some clerks would like to offer licenses online kind of like how the state issues hunting or fishing permits.

Chris Hartman, the director of the Fairness Campaign, said those clerks seeking to change the laws are doing it for political gain.

“Folks think this is great political fodder. I mean they’re already saber rattling for the upcoming Elections — folks think this is the sort of thing that plays,” Harman said. “In reality we know by polling in general that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) support has been growing steadily amongst Republican voters as well.”

“The thought that we’re going to spend all of this time to go back to have a special session. To spend $60,000 of taxpayer money a day, just to try to create a right for folks to discriminate is inane.”

Gov. Steve Beshear agrees that spending the money in a special session to decide this issue is a waste, and has repeatedly said he will not issue a call for session on this topic.

As a point of clarification in the interview, the numbers referenced by Pure Politics during the interview on the support for same-sex marriage in the state are incorrect. The April Bluegrass Poll conducted for the Louisville Courier Journal, The Lexington Herald Leader, WKYT-TV, and WHAS-TV — found 57 percent of Kentuckians are opposed to same-sex marriage.

The poll found support for same-sex marriage at 33 percent with 10 percent undecided.

Meanwhile the Fairness Campaign is spreading their message in an attempt to add LGBT to the list of protected classes in Kentucky.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling allows for same-sex marriages those couples can still be fired from their jobs or blocked from housing.

“In Kentucky, and the U.S. in general, folks can’t be fired from a job or denied a place to live on the basis of their race, color, their religion, their national origin, their disability, their familial status — all of these things, but none of the civil rights laws include sexual orientation and gender identity,” Hartman said.

Kentucky’s civil rights act does not include LGBT couples, nor does 27 other states.

Currently 8 cities in Kentucky have adopted Fairness ordinances they include: Midway (2015), Covington (2003), Danville (2014), Frankfort (2013), Lexington (1999), Louisville (1999), Morehead (2013), and Vicco (2013).

The campaign has been moving city-by-city, but now that the Supreme Court has ruled the strategy is changing, Hartman said.

“Kentucky could become the first state in the south to update its civil rights act the way that we did in the 60s,” Hartman said.

A change to the law would need to be approved by the General Assembly.

In June of 2008 during Gov. Beshear’s first term he extended protections to LGBT state workers on hiring and firing when he came into office via executive order.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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