Kentucky state senator Ernesto Scorsone announced publicly Tuesday that he is gay, saying his sexual orientation is unrelated to his job as senator and that his announcement was "the right thing to do for me." Scorsone (D-Lexington) is thought to be the first elected Kentucky officeholder to come out, according to Jason Young, communications director for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national political action committee. Scorsone's acknowledgement came during a luncheon speech to an audience of about 420 state workers participating in the Governor's Equal Employment Opportunity Conference. Late in a talk about equality in the workplace, Scorsone praised Kentucky governor Paul Patton for signing an executive order in May prohibiting discrimination against state employees or job applicants on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. "As a public official I was proud that our government was taking this step toward fairness," Scorsone said, adding, "As a gay Kentuckian, I was proud of the executive order, because while I personally may have been fortunate when it comes to job discrimination, other gay Kentuckians have not." Several in the audience stood to applaud.
Scorsone said in an interview with the
after the speech that his announcement was "an independent, personal decision" and was "not made for any political reason or any other reason." He added, "I don't think my sexual orientation has anything to do with how I
do my job as a legislator. This just seemed like the right thing to do for me." Scorsone said he chose that forum to declare that he is gay because "it just seemed the right time to do it. They specifically had asked me to talk about equal opportunity and the executive order."
Scorsone, who ran unsuccessfully for Kentucky's sixth congressional district seat in 1998, said he is actively seeking reelection next year to his 13th senate district seat in Lexington but wouldn't rule out another bid for Congress. An attorney, he served 11 years in the Kentucky house and has been in the state senate since 1996.