Showing posts with label kentucky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kentucky. Show all posts

July 22, 2017

Kentucky on The Hook For Anti Gay Kim Davis Legal Fees $222,695

Kim Davis is back at work several days after being released from jail. The embattled Kentucky county clerk says she still refuses to authorize marriage licenses, but will not stop her deputies from issuing them. VPC
LOUISVILLE — In a victory for same-sex couples denied marriage licenses by a Kentucky clerk two years ago, a federal judge Friday awarded $222,695 in fees to their attorneys.
The ACLU of Kentucky hailed the ruling, saying it should serve as a reminder to public officials in Kentucky of the cost of violating civil liberties.
“It is unfortunate that Kentucky taxpayers will likely bear the financial burden of the unlawful actions and litigation strategies of an elected official,” William Sharp, the ACLU’s legal director, said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered the state to pay the fees, rather than Kim Davis or Rowan County, Ky., where she is the clerk.
August 2016: Judge dismisses civil suits against Kim Davis
July 2016: Ky. AG: Clerk Kim Davis violated Open Records Act
He said Davis was protected because she was acting in her official capacity when she stopped issuing marriage licenses in 2015 on religious grounds after the Supreme Court held gay marriage is a fundamental right. He said the state rather than the county was liable because the state is primarily responsible for regulating marriage.   
In a 50-page ruling, Bunning said he was awarding the fees under a federal law that allows them to be granted to the prevailing party in civil rights cases. He overruled a magistrate judge who had denied the money because he said the plaintiffs hadn’t really prevailed.
Mat Staver, chairman, and founder of Liberty Counsel, which represented Davis, had argued the plaintiffs didn’t really win because eventually, the General Assembly passed a law providing the religious liberty accommodation that Davis sought — removing the names of clerks from marriage license forms. He said that made the lawsuit moot.
Bunning, however, found that the plaintiffs got what they wanted — an injunction requiring her office to begin issuing licenses again.
February 2016: Bill to protect Ky. clerk Kim Davis passed by committee
January 2016: Kim Davis to attend State of the Union address
“Plaintiffs won the war,” Bunning said.
In a statement, Staver said he was pleased that Davis wasn’t held personally liable but disappointed with Bunning’s finding that the plaintiffs prevailed.
He predicted that the state would appeal, but Woody Maglinger, a spokesman for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, said the state’s outside counsel was still studying the ruling and that no decision had yet been made whether to try to reverse it. 
Davis became a national lightning rod when just hours after the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling on June 26, 2015, she decided her office would no longer issue marriage licenses to any couples, same-sex or otherwise.
Four days later, when April Miller and Karen Roberts, who had been in a committed same-sex relationship for 11 years, went to Davis’ office to get a license, their request was denied. Two opposite-sex couples — Kevin Holloway and Jody Fernandez and Shantel Burke and Stephen Napier — as well as another same-sex couple — Barry Spartman and Aaron Skaggs — also were turned down.
They and others sued, while Davis filed a claim alleging the state of Kentucky and then-Gov. Steve Beshear deprived her rights by requiring her to issue licenses with her name on them. 
December 2015: Ky. gov removes clerks' names from marriage licenses
November 2015: Kentucky’s governor-elect to remove clerk name from marriage form
In August 2015, Bunning issued a preliminary injunction ordering Davis to comply with the law. When a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court declined to stay it, and she continued to refuse to comply, he ordered her jailed for contempt of court.
Five days later, the plaintiffs reported that the office had granted them licenses and Bunning ordered Davis released.
In December of that year, after his election, Bevin issued an executive order removing the names of clerks from marriage licenses to “ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored.” The Legislature later passed SB 216, which made that change permanent.
Bunning's order included fees to four Louisville attorneys — Sharp, Daniel Canon, Laura Landenwich and L. Joe Dunman. The court also ordered the state to pay $2,008 in costs.
October 2015: Poll: Ky. voters split on removing clerk Kim Davis
October 2015: In addition to Davis, Pope met with gay couple in Washington
In his statement, Sharp urged voters to remember what Davis cost them when they go to the ballot box. She was out of her office Friday and didn't reply to an email, but Staver said litigation would have been unnecessary if Beshear had accommodated Davis’ religious beliefs as Bevin later did.
Beshear maintained that the state's 120 county clerks were required to obey the law and the Supreme Court’s ruling.
"Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe,” he wrote to them. “But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.”
 USA TODAY NETWORKAndrew Wolfson, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal 

July 10, 2017

Anti Gay Messaging Really Hurts Kentuckys Economy

 Kim Davis who went to jail for refusing to issue Marriage licences, Presidential runner at the time Huckabee, pastor and a guy who use to dress as a farmer to appear at GOP rallies and take away some the richie smell.

We sometimes disagreed with their approach, but there’s no denying that Republicans went into 2017 determined to put their newly won power into boosting Kentucky’s economy. To that end, legislative leaders and Gov. Matt Bevin spurned attempts to pass a “bathroom bill.”

They wanted to avoid the jobs-killing flak that came North Carolina’s way in response to its bigoted anti-LGBTQ law. To their credit, they succeeded.

Yet, despite their efforts to protect Kentucky’s reputation as welcoming to all, they still managed to enact a law that California has branded as discriminatory against gay and transgender students.

We can’t know how much investment, tourism or business Kentucky stands to lose. We do know that being known as discriminatory is bad for business, which puts the new law at odds with the GOP’s pro-business agenda.

California’s action is arrogant, no doubt. Nonetheless, Kentucky lawmakers should revisit the potentially discriminatory clause singled out by California’s attorney general. The provision serves no purpose, could create unnecessary legal conflicts for Kentucky schools and hurt innocent students.

Because of it, Louisville is already losing conventions, says Mayor Greg Fischer. He and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray sought exemptions from California’s ban on state-funded travel for their cities, but were refused. Home to 1 in 5 Kentuckians, the two cities long ago outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation.

California AG Xavier Becerra based his decision on how Kentucky’s new law, which took effect June 29, might be applied, not on any acts of discrimination.

And, as Californians have said, their new law, which took effect Jan. 1, has problems of its own, such as hypocrisy. Gov. Jerry Brown recently traveled to China to make a speech and promote trade, even though China bans same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. Pressuring other statehouses, even for a good cause, will inflame already painful divisions.

Making all this even more frustrating, Kentucky lawmakers of both parties voted for the new law knowing that it was unnecessary. Kentucky enacted a religious-freedom law four years ago. How many does one state need?

The 2017 version repeats longstanding laws, practices and constitutional protections regarding the religious and political rights of students with one possible exception — the clause that California’s AG identified as a means for discriminating against gay and transsexual students. It requires school boards and higher-ed governing boards to ensure religious or political student organizations can exclude students who are not “committed” to the groups’ missions. Boards also must ensure groups can define their own doctrines and principles. Students could adopt some noxious principles: racial or male supremacy, homophobia. But loathsome beliefs and speech are protected in our free society by the First Amendment, which also protects the freedom to associate with whom we choose.

Still, the clause could create an impossible choice for educators: How to enforce non-discrimination policies while obeying a law that forces them to support discrimination that, while ostensibly based on beliefs, is effectively based on race, gender, sexual orientation or identity. Unless some non-profit raises money by ginning up a test case, a la Kim Davis, that quandary might never arise. Millennials are known for tolerance and few of any age seek associates who believe they’re abominable.

The bill’s text was provided by the Family Foundation and is similar to laws in some states that California is not boycotting.

Rather than breast-beating and digging in, Bevin and Kentucky lawmakers should just delete the objectionable provision, acknowledging that its ramifications were not fully understood.

If schools are violating students’ rights, educating school officials about those rights would be more effective than a redundant law.

Lawmakers also should rethink their habit of enacting “off the shelf” bills supplied by interest groups.

California lawmakers should reconsider as well. Kentucky is one of eight states — including Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina — now under a travel ban that’s riddled with exceptions and appears to be inconsistently applied. Walling off public employees and university scholars from attending conferences in other states is bound to fuel resentments and is a peculiar way to support diversity and tolerance.

November 29, 2016

Kentucky LGBT Community Feels Nov. Election have Put Gains in Jeopardy

Many communities in the commonwealth have moved to protect LGBT residents by enacting fairness ordinances, but one well-known Kentucky gay rights advocate says the November elections have put those gains in jeopardy.

Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman heads to the nation’s capital this Friday to report on the state’s role as a leader in organizing rural LGBT communities, but he says the meeting of the White House Rural Council will take place in a climate of trepidation for his group. 

"We're going to have a multifaceted, multi-front fight on our hands in the Kentucky General Assembly," he predicts.

Hartman first points to one piece of legislation he’s confirmed will make another appearance in 2017 – Senate Bill 180, permitting business owners to decline to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs. The measure proved a non-starter in the Democratically-controlled House in March, but its chances would appear much improved when Republicans claim their supermajority in the chamber next January.

Although the upcoming session is short – just 30 days – Hartman anticipates a deluge of bills aimed at challenging the initiatives his group has championed over the years.

"States like Oklahoma this year faced 21 bills. Other states, Texas I think, had more than 40," he notes. "This year, Kentucky had more than half a dozen anti-LGBT bills."

The "anti-LGBT" descriptor is one that rankles many backers of the legislation.

In floor remarks before casting his vote for SB180 this year, Hazard Republican Brandon Smith told his colleagues, "My vote today is not out of hate. It's not directed toward any group whatsoever. It's to make sure that every single group, whatever their values is [sic], whatever their ideas are, that they're all the same and that they have the right to run their business without being threatened or put into a tough spot that goes contrary to their beliefs."

Sen. Albert Robinson, a Republican from London, has argued Kentucky law already shields business owners who refrain from delivering services that violate their conscience, telling WUKY last March that that SB180 simply "puts it there where it's easy to read, easy to see. And if they want to challenge [it], let the people challenge that law instead of the little business person."

But Hartman’s organization and its allies see other business interests at stake. They warn that passing the bill, and others like it, could make Kentucky the next North Carolina, a state which faced significant corporate backlash for overturning discrimination bans.

Republican Senator Julie Raque Adams aired the same concern during the 2016 session, saying she worried SB180 might have a "detrimental impact on critical and ongoing economic development efforts in my hometown of Louisville."

Other recent Kentucky bills have aimed to create separate marriage forms for straight and same-sex couples, usher in different marriage statuses, and mandate which bathrooms transgender students can use.

Though Hartman stops short of predicting the language that will emerge in future bills, he says GOP control of the legislature and the Governor's Mansion will put new pressure on gay rights groups.   

“While many Republicans do support us, some in the party are of a faction in which they have become more stringent on their anti-LGBT sentiments and their desire to create policy," he says. 


July 4, 2014

Supreme Judge Kennedy Strikes down ban on Gay Marriage and it has big significance


KENTUCKY- Republican-appointed federal judge ruled on July 1 that Kentucky's constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unconstitutional. U. S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II was appointed by President George H. Bush in 1992 on the recommendation of then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Founder of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson is pleased with the new advancement for total marriage equality for the United States.
"Today a Republican-appointed federal judge in Kentucky held - as have more than 20 other judges and as did the U.S. Supreme Court last year - that discriminatory state marriage bans are unconstitutional," Wolfson said. "It is wrong for the government to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry the person they love; a freedom that is part of every American's liberty and pursuit of happiness. Today's ruling in Kentucky underscores that America -- all of America -- is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should bring the country to national resolution as soon as possible."
This ruling follows a February ruling from the same judge who stated that Kentucky must respect legal marriages of same-sex couples pered outside of Kentucky. The case will be heard by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals onAugust 6, the same day they will hear the DeBoer v. Snyder case from Michigan.
"Sometimes, by upholding equal rights for a few, courts necessarily must require others to forebear some prior conduct or restrain some personal instinct," Heyburn wrote. "Here, that would not seem to be the case. Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree.”
 Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said the state will appeal the decision.
Since the strike down of DOMA in 2013, 23 consecutive rulings have struck down state marriage bans as unconstitutional.
Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responded highlighting how many LGBT couples will be affected by this ruling, pending the decision in August.
"The Bluegrass State now joins what is becoming a long list of states where same-sex couples can get married. According to the latest U.S. Census data, there are at least 7,195 same-sex couples living in Kentucky. This is an amazing development for the millions of people who long for the day when marriage equality is not a blue state or red state issue, but rather a right that is enjoyed in every part of these United States of America.”

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