May 6, 2006

Gay Protest Goes To The Nags

Gay rights advocates dogged Gov. Ernie Fletcher at the state's biggest nag race - the Kentucky Derby. About 20 demonstrators were on hand Saturday morning as Fletcher hosted the Governors Derby Breakfast.

Fletcher angered the Kentucky Equality Association by not vetoing $ 11 million in 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.

As the group demonstrated in front of the Capitol a number of people stopped to express their support. An estimated 15,000 people attended the breakfast on the Capitol grounds.

Fletcher told reporters he was not concerned about the demonstration. We welcome everyone to express their First Amendment rights, Fletcher said. I would hope theyd feel welcome to come in and have a good breakfast and feel more amicable.

But Equality Association president Jordan Palmer was in no mood for sharing ham, eggs and biscuits with the governor. "I dont want to have breakfast and be around the governor, said Palmer, a registered Republican who voted for Fletcher.

Last month Fletcher rescinded an executive order signed in 2003 by then-Gov.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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