Demanding Justice at the Next Level
Rising to the Challenge
Kentucky Fairness Alliance E-News, Spring 2006
KFA Takes the Lead Against Discrimination at Cumberlands
The University of the Cumberlands dismissed dean's list student Jason Johnson on Thursday April 6, after administrators found references to his boyfriend on his personal Web page.
The following Monday we learned that the 2006-2008 state budget contained $11 million in allocations to the university to help it start a pharmacy program.
KFA members and supporters jumped into action. Our work shined an immediate spotlight on the impropriety of spending public money on a private, Baptist-affiliated school that proudly discriminates against LGBT students.
With only a few days to try and convince Gov. Ernie Fletcher to uphold his duty to defend Kentucky's constitution, we pressed hard for a line-item veto.
Members and supporters accepted our challenge, and joined together to make a powerful statement against spending their tax dollars on an institution that unapologetically discriminates.
KFA proudly partnered with the Kentucky Collegiate Coalition, a statewide, student-led network of GLBTQ campus groups and affiliates, in organizing the Students for Students rally.
Passing the Buck
The April 22 Lexington Herald-Leader reported that calls to the governor's office were running 4-1 in favor of a veto. Still, Fletcher chose to ignore the constitution, to ignore constituent feedback, to ignore an opportunity to exercise fiscal responsibility.
Instead, he left the appropriation in place—apparently having caved to the extremists in his party—and passed the buck to the judiciary to make the right decision.
Taking our demand for justice to the next level, KFA Executive Director Christina Gilgor filed a legal challenge the very next day. With a first-rate legal team led by noted civil rights attorney David Tachau of Louisville, her suit seeks to block the University of the Cumberlands funding on constitutional grounds.
"Fletcher told the press he wanted to let the courts decide the whether the budget allocation was constitutional," she said, "but in his lawsuit, he has asked for an affirmative judgment that would allow taxpayer dollars to subsidize discrimination."
"There's no way I could stand by and let his sham of a lawsuit go unchallenged," she added. "Filing my complaint was the only way to ensure the constitutional issues are addressed fairly and completely."
State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone of Lexington, powerhouse fairness supporter and our only openly gay legislator, had this to say in his address to the Students for Students rally on April 19:
KFA believes in Sen. Scorsone's prediction. Your response to the travesty at the University of the Cumberlands proves it.
Passing a statewide Fairness law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit Priority One for KFA. Doing so would subject the university to the non-discrimination policies of its accrediting agencies, including the Accreditation Council for Pharmacist Education. It's our most important next step for ensuring that public services in Kentucky are open to all Kentuckians.
Help us build on our momentum with your continued commitment to the fair Kentucky we all deserve. Read more in this newsletter about Christina's legal challenge and our plans to step up pressure for a statewide Fairness law through voter identification at Gay Pride events throughout the summer.