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Local State Reps. Want Opinion From AG on Anti-Gay Backlash

Four Republican state representatives, including Covington/Taylor Mill's Tom Kerr and Fort Thomas's Joe Fischer co-signed a letter from Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington calling for an opinion from Attorney General Jack Conway in regards to the backlash received by two companies, including Chick-fil-A, after taking anti-gay stances. Here is the press release that followed the letter:

Representative Stan Lee Urges Attorney General to Review Possible Violation of Civil Rights by Government Officials;
Letter asks for A-G opinion under Kentucky Marriage Amendment for actions taken against Chick-fil-A, Hands On Originals

State Representative Stan Lee, R-Lexington (45th District) joined by Representatives Joe Fischer, Tim Moore and Tom Kerr (Monday) asked Attorney General Jack Conway to review any possible violation of civil rights by government officials against Chick-fil-A following their president’s statement regarding marriage.


“On July 27, 2012, The Courier-Journal reported that the University of Louisville had issued a release criticizing recent statements by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy as “offensive and unnecessary.” It was further reported that U of L Provost Shirley Willihnganz planned to meet with campus groups about an on-line petition to shut down the Chick-fil-A franchise in the school’s activity center,” Rep. Lee wrote in his letter. “What were Mr. Cathy’s alleged offensive comments--that he supported “traditional marriage.”

Rep. Lee also cited recent backlash against Lexington-based Hands On Originals, which declined to produce shirts and apparel for a Gay Pride event in the city.

On March 28, 2012, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the Fayette County Public Schools had put a hold on purchases from Hands On Originals. The paper also reported that the Lexington mayor had criticized Hands On by saying, “People don’t have patience for this sort of attitude today.” The Lexington mayor was further quoted as saying, “I am against discrimination period. It is bad for business and bad for the city,” Rep. Lee’s letter stated.

Because of those two incidents, Rep. Lee cites the Kentucky Marriage Amendment which was approved by voters in 2004, and asks whether statements by government officials in both situations violate the state and Federal constitutions. 

“In light of the foregoing, I request your opinion as to whether the actions of any of the governmental officials, noted above, violated the civil rights of the owners of these two private businesses under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Section 1 of Bill of Rights of the Kentucky Constitution (which also protects the rights of free speech), or Section 233A of the Kentucky Constitution,” Rep. Lee wrote.

Rep. Lee’s request was delivered to the Attorney General’s office (Monday) morning.
Chick-fil-A had come under fire from gay rights groups because of its generous giving to anti-gay organizations. Hands On Originals is a Lexington-based company that refused to produce t-shirts for a gay pride event.


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