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Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher
Happy Diversity Day, y’all. Unless, of course, you’re one of them queers.
Such was the cheerful message sent last week by Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, who simultaneously declared April 11 Diversity Day and slashed employment protections for LGBT folks.
Oh, the irony.
Bizarrely, Fletcher’s reasoning for removing “sexual orientation and gender identity” from the non-discrimination list was to “enhance” the state’s affirmative action plan. In essence what Fletcher did was make Kentucky’s non-discrimination policy match the federal one, which doesn’t recognize LGBT folks. Which means Kentucky’s standards actually better reflected this country’s diversity until Fletcher got ahold of them.
An April 11 statement on Fletcher’s Web site mentions nothing about the controversial excising of protections for lesbian and gay employees. He does pat himself on the back for pledging to hire more minorities. “My administration has set diversity as a priority,Ó he said.
Uh, Earth to Fletcher: no it hasn’t.
“For the governor to eliminate employment protections for an oft-discriminated-against minority Ñ and to do so on Diversity Day no less Ñ is surely a kind of gratuitous brutality,” said Eleanor D. Acheson, director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Public Policy & Government Affairs. “And then to say it was done because the protections did not fit with affirmative action initiatives is so absurdly nonsensical and blatantly political as to be simply ludicrous.”
According to the Herald-Leader, this flap follows an investigation into whether Fletcher’s administration hired political cronies.
“Apparently he has reached a new low,” Sen. Ernesto Scorsone (D-Lexington) told the Herald-Leader. “If the governor had a shred of decency left, it’s gone now.”
Scorsone, who is openly gay, also said, “There’s only one message here: The governor wants to discriminate against gay people in the state work force, and that’s unacceptable.”
Fletcher, however, contends he hasn’t discriminated against gays. “To make sexual preference the same as race I think is inappropriate,” he told the Herald-Leader. “We’re not going to create a new special class of individuals.”
Unless, of course, those individuals have helped us politically and we want to reward them with jobs.
Interesting that Fletcher should announce that he wants to hire more racial minorities and gut LGBT protections at the same time. It sounds like someone is trying to appease his base – right-wing Republicans who don’t like gays or racial minorities.
In fact, Rep. Joseph Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) told the Herald-Leader that giving the boot to protections for gays was a “good political move.”
Fletcher will be running for reelection next year. The Log Cabin Republicans in Kentucky are working to get a challenger in the primary. Hopefully Democrats can get it together to challenge him as well.
Send Fletcher a “new special” message by emailing him via http://governor.ky.gov/contact.htm or calling 502-564-2611.