HB279

Politics
12:27 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers Likely to Override Religious Freedom Bill Veto

Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

The Kentucky House will vote Tuesday whether to override Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of the "religious freedom" bill.

Many House Democrats supported the bill when it first came up for a vote, though the decision to consider the veto was more contentious when taken up in a Democratic caucus meeting Monday. Speaker Greg Stumbo expects the override to go through, but he's not sure how strong the support will be.

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Strange Fruit
10:39 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Strange Fruit: Rob Portman for Marriage Equality; Trevor Hoppe on the Criminalization of HIV

It's been a week full of political news on the LGBTQ front, so we asked WFPL's political editor, Phillip M. Bailey, to join us for our Juicy Fruit segment this week and help us talk through some of the finer points of these issues. Here in Kentucky, we've been watching and waiting to see what Governor Beshear would do with House Bill 279, the so-called 'religious freedom' bill that would let people ignore civil rights laws that go against their religious beliefs. 

On Monday, we learned the city of Covington had joined the chorus of those opposing the bill and urging a veto. Covington Mayor Sherry Carran sent Beshear a letter warning the bill could "do harm and will present a poor image of our state to progressive professionals and companies who understand and appreciate the value of diversity and open-mindedness."

Naturally, opponents of the bill in Louisville then collectively turned their heads and raised an eyebrow at our own Mayor Greg Fischer, and on Tuesday he sent a letter of his own to the capitol, saying the law was unnecessary. "We don’t need this proposed law, full of ambiguity and question, to prove our religious freedom and protect our citizens from some perceived threat. We have plenty of laws and a Constitution adopted by our citizens that provide us ample protections—no matter our faith, our profession, or our other rights and traits as human beings."

Indeed, on Friday, Governor Beshear did veto the bill, and now it comes down to whether the General Assembly will override the gubernatorial veto—which it appears to have enough votes to do.

In national news, Senator Rob Portman became the first GOP senator to publicly support marriage equality for LGBTQ folks. He revealed this week that he changed his mind on the issue because his son is gay. Hillary Clinton also released a video statement this week voicing her unequivocal support of same gender marriage, saying "Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

But Phillip, who covers politics full time, didn't have the same warm fuzzy feelings as many did over these announcements. He pointed out that Senator Portman has known his son is gay for two years, and that Clinton is widely rumored to be planning a run for president in 2016. So the cynical observer could see these moves as exactly that: PR maneuvers, carefully timed for maximum political advantage.

Jaison, so often the voice of activism and idealism on our show, preferred the less cynical explanation. "Are there any politicians who do the right thing just for the sake of doing it?" We'll let you listen for the discussion that followed.

Earlier this month we mentioned in a Juicy Fruit segment that people in Michigan were suffering legal consequences for supposedly-confidential HIV tests. To learn more, we called Trevor Hoppe. He's a graduate student at the University of Michigan who's studying sexuality, medicine, and the law. Trevor told us there are indeed cases of no- or very-low-risk behavior on the part of HIV-positive folks being treated like deliberate endangerment in the eyes of the law.

He says the criminalization of these seemingly-innocuous acts is a method of social control that has little to do with actually protecting public health. "I think it's just another way that HIV-positive people face a particular kind of stigma, despite the fact that there's no risk in these cases. It's not about that. It's about punishing HIV-positive people as much as the law can facilitate."

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Strange Fruit
10:39 am
Sat March 16, 2013

Strange Fruit: Kentucky's 'Religious Freedom' Bill; Dr. Brittney Cooper on Black Girlhood

  

Kentucky's LGBTQ activists are all watching Governor Steve Beshear this week, as he decides whether or not to veto House Bill 279, the so-called 'religious freedom' bill. The bill would allow people to ignore civil rights laws that go against their religious beliefs, and while many of those protections have federal law to back them up, protections for LGBTQ status do not. So hard-won Fairness laws where they exist today—Louisville, Lexington, Covington, and Vicco—would no longer be enforceable.

Since this is the issue on so many minds, we asked Fairness Campaign director and friend to the show Chris Hartman top stop by this week and give us the latest. He said Fairness has been busily encouraging supporters to call and write the governor urging a veto, but no one knows what Beshear will do.

Chris also stuck around for the rest of our Juicy Fruit segment, which we happened to be recording just a few minutes after the Catholic Church announced the new pope. Jaison and Chris both grew up Catholic and tried to figure out one of the church's most pervasive mysteries: why do priests get to wear the most festive vestments, even though they are some of the least festive people?

In our feature interview this week, we spoke with Dr. Brittney Cooper, professor of Women's Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, and co-founder of The Crunk Feminist Collective, about the perils of black girlhood. Dr. Cooper was with Dr. Story at the Pleasure Principle panel when The Onion  called Academy Award Nominee Quvenzhané Wallis the c-word on twitter, and we used that incident as our jumping off point for the conversation.

"We live in a moment in which black women are routinely verbally assaulted within social media and within the popular press," Dr. Cooper explained. "I think that her being a black girl does play a significant role in the really tepid responses from white feminists. The reality is that black girls are largely invisible."

This week's closing thoughts lead us to talk about how our sexual desires and performance change as we age and have fewer sexual hang-ups.

Note: We use the full version of the c-word and cover some mature subjects in this week's show.

Local News
5:30 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

News of Rift Among Kentucky's LGBTQ Leaders is News to LGBTQ Leaders

Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard
Credit File photo

  A Reuters article published this week puts Fairness President Chris Hartman and True Colors Ministry's Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard "at loggerheads"—but the two men in question disagree.

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