Kentucky lawsuit: Taxes shouldn't fund homophobia

A gay rights group filed suit Tuesday against Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher (pictured) over his decision to keep $11 million in state funds earmarked for a private Baptist college that expelled a student for being gay.

BY admin

April 25 2006 11:00 PM ET

A gay rights
group filed suit Tuesday against Kentucky governor Ernie
Fletcher over his decision to keep $11 million in state
funds earmarked for a private Baptist college that
expelled a gay student earlier this month. Christina
Gilgor, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness
Alliance, asked a Franklin circuit court judge to prevent
the state from giving public money to University of
the Cumberlands.

Lawmakers
included $10 million for a proposed pharmacy school and $1
million for scholarships for the school in the budget. The
school is located in the district of Republican senate
president David Williams, and he has been an advocate
for funding the program.

Kentucky's
constitution prohibits the state from using tax money in
support of religious institutions or entities that
discriminate against citizens, according to the
suit. "We're asking that the governor uphold the
constitution and not allow the funding of the University of
the Cumberlands," Gilgor said in a telephone interview.

Fletcher declined
to veto funding for the college because, he
said, the money came from coal severance taxes paid by
coal companies, not by individual taxpayers in the
state. Jim Deckard, Fletcher's general counsel, said
Monday evening he believes the constitution's
prohibition on funding private schools is limited to
elementary and high schools, not colleges and universities.

Fletcher had said
he would ask the courts to determine the
constitutionality of providing state funding for
construction projects at private institutions before
releasing the money. However, the governor would not
be the proper plaintiff in such a suit, Gilgor said.

The group is
asking the court to block public funding of the school and
wants a ruling from the court about whether such an
appropriation is legal under the state's constitution,
she said. "We really just needed to take the lead and
be sure that the constitutional issues received a full
and fair representation," Gilgor said. (AP)

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