On the ballot on November 7, 2023 are candidates for governor of Kentucky and multiple other statewide offices. In a race drawing national attention, Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear is seeking re-election, while Republican challenger and current attorney general Daniel Cameron is looking to unseat him.
GLAAD is urging media to include LGBTQ people and issues in their coverage and ask the candidates about their statements, policies and proposals for LGBTQ Kentuckians.
“GLAAD urges Kentucky voters and reporters to look closely at the equality records of Kentucky’s candidates. Candidates should be pressed by the media to explain how their enacted policies and campaign platforms will make Kentucky’s LGBTQ citizens safer and more secure, how they’ll protect their right to not be discriminated against, and promote the liberty of all Kentuckians,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
The LGBTQ and equality records of Kentucky’s gubernatorial candidates for elected office include:
Andy Beshear (D, incumbent)
—In a campaign ad says, “I’ve never supported gender reassignment surgery for kids—and those procedures don’t happen here in Kentucky.”
—Stated in a press conference that had a bill that only banned gender reassignment surgeries for minors made its way to his desk, he would have signed it.
—Vetoed a sweeping Republican bill aimed at regulating the lives of transgender youths that includes banning access to gender-affirming health care and restricting the bathrooms they can use. The bill would prohibit transgender youth from accessing best practice, age-appropriate medical care delivered after careful consultation with the young person’s parents and doctors. It would also force doctors to detransition transgender youth who have been receiving—and thriving—under their care plan. The bill bans transgender students from using school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, and would force teachers to out students to their parents, even if that would put the student in danger at home. In a written veto message he wrote that the bill allows “too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.” He also warned that the bill’s repercussions would include an increase in youth suicides: “My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.” The veto was overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature. Health care for transgender people and youth supported by every major medical association and leading world health authority.
—Spoke against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and supported a ban on so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth during a historic appearance at an LGBTQ-rights rally at Kentucky’s Capitol. Addressing the crowd in the Capitol Rotunda, Beshear said: “I’m proud to be the first sitting governor to attend this fairness rally.” Announced support for legislation banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which has failed to pass either chamber in each Kentucky legislative session over the past decade.
Daniel Cameron (R)
—Mocked pronoun choice in a campaign event describing his opponent for governor of Kentucky: Cameron riffed that come November Beshear’s pronouns will be “‘has’ and ‘been,’” and criticized the governor for protecting “transgender surgeries for kids.” “Surgeries for kids” is a baseless mischaracterization of transgender health care for youth which has been demonstrated to be necessary, appropriate, and life-saving.
—Mischaracterized health care for transgender youth as “experimental” in a statement following a judge blocking the state’s ban on health care for trans youth. The judge rebuked Cameron’s statement noting that the drugs “have a long history of safe use in minors for various conditions.”
—Joined several other Republican attorneys general in lawsuit against the FDA over a policy prohibiting the discrimination against LGBTQ children regarding school lunch. The Biden administration enacted the rule after the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court Bostock ruling that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex.
—Signed on to a baseless letter about Pride merchandise sold at Target along with attorneys general from six other states. The letter baselessly claims that the seven states represented by the signatories are compelled to “enforce state laws protecting children,” and lies about Pride merchandise. The group of attorneys general also inexplicably argued the Pride collection at Target an afoul of Target’s fiduciary duty to company shareholders. No obscenity charges have been filed against Target, nor have any fiduciary complaints been reported in the media. Read more here.
—Sued the Biden administration, along with 19 other attorneys general, claiming the anti-discrimination directive regarding student participation in school sports and bathroom and shower accommodations for transgender people infringe on state’s rights.
—Appealed a federal judge’s ruling that blocked Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Cameron called the care “child mutilation,” a baseless term that mischaracterizes transgender healthcare, despite support for health care for transgender people and youth supported by every major medical association and leading world health authority.
—Baselessly tweeted: “Children should be free from the influence of radical gender ideology” in response to Target offering Pride merchandise.
—Asked the city of Louisville to drop its appeal of a ruling that allowed a local photographer to refuse service to same-sex couples. Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance allows a person to file a discrimination complaint if they go into a restaurant, bar, or any public business and is denied service because they’re a member of the LGBTQ community. A photographer sued to be able to discriminate against same sex couples.
Approximately 144,000 LGBTQ people live in Kentucky, and 26% of LGBTQ people in Kentucky are raising children. Kentucky has no statewide protections against discrimination in access to credit, and recently enacted draconian laws restricting health care for transgender youth, bans on transgender students using bathroom and shower facilities that match their gender, and a version of a “don’t say LGBTQ” bill that limits bars or explicitly restricts educators from discussing LGBTQ people or issues in schools.
Added GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis: “Kentucky voters must use their voices and votes to hold elected leaders accountable to a future where all of us can be more free.”
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GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.