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Summit Plots Outreach To Rural LGBT Communities

Josh James
Mayor Jim Gray addresses the Rural Pride Summit in Lexington

Leaders in the Kentucky LGBT movement gathered in Lexington Wednesday to discuss the challenges faced by rural gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities.

The goal of the summit, hosted by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, was not only to reach out to LGBT residents in more far-flung parts of the state but to push back against stereotypes that often cast gays and lesbians as city-dwellers congregated along the coasts.

Summit series director Ashlee Davis says voices from smaller communities should be part of the national conversation.

"They are not always heard at the table when decisions are made in the LGBT community and then, quite frankly, they have very unique stories and struggles economically, related to health care, housing, you name it," she says.

The meeting comes in the lead-up to a federal court decision on the fate of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious convictions.

While Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman sounds confident U.S. District Judge David Bunning will side against Davis, he predicts more litigation should the ruling go the other way.

"I think that we would deal with that on the judicial level first," he says. "I think that we would certainly appeal that decision, or the ACLU would, and we'd see it head to a higher court."

Bunning had indicated he expected to reach a decision around August 11.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.