May 6, 2006

Gay Rights Battle Goes To Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher will be met by LGBT civil rights protestors when he hosts the annual Kentucky Derby Breakfast.

The Kentucky Equality Association will lead the silent protest march outside the May 6th event.

Fletcher angered the Association by not vetoing funding to the University of the Cumberlands, a Baptist school that expelled a student it learned was gay, and when Fletcher removed protections for LGBT civil servants from an Executive Order signed by his predecessor.

The Kentucky Fairness Alliance has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the $11 million grant to the university and earlier this week Democratic lawmakers announced their support.

Both the Equality Association and the Fairness Alliance believe the grant violates the separation of church and state provision in the state constitution.

Jason Johnson, 20, was expelled April 6 after posting his sexual orientation on a Web site. The dean's list student received all Fs on his transcript when he was expelled. (story) Following public outrage the university agreed to allow Johnson to send in work to finish his courses and receive final grades. But he remains barred from the campus.'

Last month Fletcher rescinded an executive order signed in 2003 by then-Gov. Paul Patton that provided protections for LGBT state workers and replaced it with a new one excluding the gay protections.

Fletcher signed the new order at a "Diversity Day" event attended by hundreds of children. Asked by a reporter about the omission Fletcher said he was just following federal non-bias standards, which do not include sexuality.

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