Rally held in Berea today with poor turnoutJul 18th, 2012 | By News Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org | Category: Around the Commonwealth, Kentucky Guardian News
Only 100 people turned-out at a rally in Richmond, a disappointing number considering the large gay population of Greater Lexington.
The issue of fairness/equality in Richmond and nearby Berea was discussed last year, but neither city enacted an ordinance. Berea Mayor Steve Connelly last fall suggested creation of a joint human rights commission serving Richmond and the rest of Madison County, including Berea.
But Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes rejected the idea as “premature,” and Madison County Judge-Executive Kent Clark said he would not be able to fill the seats of the commission due to lack of interest.
Jessica Miller-Poole, owner of 13 Wishes Photography in Richmond, said she was posing Cheri Chenault and her partner, Destiny Keith, for a maternity session Saturday in E.C. Million Park when a gatekeeper told them they had to leave because “those type of people are not welcome here.”
“They had such a small kiss, such a peck of a kiss, that I wasn’t even able to capture a picture of it,” Miller-Poole said.
Immediately after the kiss, she said, the park attendant told her to leave and said that she was banned indefinitely, depending on “your behavior and if you come back and if you bring those things with you.”
E.C. Million Park is basically two adjacent parks, one owned by the City of Richmond and the other privately funded and operated.
Miller-Poole said she was unsure at the time of the incident of the difference between the parks. Miller-Poole said the gatekeeper was unable to produce a rule that justified the removal.
“There’s a large sign posted, and it tells the hours of the park, no cats, no dogs, no football, no weddings — things along that line,” she said. “It doesn’t say anything about a specific race, sexual orientation, anything like that.”
Richmond city officials are calling an alleged discrimination incident Saturday at E.C. Million Memorial Park “unfortunate.”
Cheri Chenault and her partner, Destiny Keith, are expecting a baby boy Sept. 29, and were having maternity pictures taken at the park by Jessica Miller-Poole, owner of 13 Wishes Photography.
The couple and the photographer say they were told to leave the park during the photo shoot.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” said Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes. “That’s a private piece of property, and they have the right to protect it. It’s an unfortunate incident, I agree with that. I hear one side of the story.”
The Richmond Register contacted park manager Adam Arvin Thursday on his cell phone. After stating that he had no comment, Arvin said “The park is welcoming to anyone who wants to go there.” On Tuesday, a woman who answered Arvin’s phone told the Register she had no comment.
The Richmond Human Rights Commission met with the Richmond City Commission in January last year after the election of a new mayor and three new commissioners.
During the meeting, the new officials made clear they were not interested in adopting measures to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) members of the community from discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations.
City Attorney Garrett Fowles advised the commission then to refrain from getting “involved in the enforcement and adjudication business with regard to discrimination complaints.”
Adjudicating discrimination complaints “is a highly specialized area of the law,” he said.
Berea created a Human Rights Commission last year, but did not include protection for any categories not already included in state and federal civil rights laws.
“It really is a shame (discrimination) is allowed to happen in this city,” said Scottie Saltsman, a local activist and former member of the Richmond Human Rights Commission. “By taking no action on updating the Human Rights Commission ordinance (to include protection for the LGBT community) the city commission and Mayor Barnes are giving a clear message that discrimination is okay and acceptable here in Richmond.”
The Richmond City Commission has no plans to consider a fairness ordinance “any time soon,” Barnes said Thursday.