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No Sitting Kentucky Governor Has Ever Attended This Annual LGBTQ Rally. Today That Changed.

Josh James

Gov. Andy Beshear made history Wednesday, becoming the first sitting governor to attend and speak at an annual LGBTQ rights gathering in the Capitol.

"What a difference an election makes, right?" That was the mood in the rotunda as participants congregated in the heart of state government for the yearly Fairness Rally.

Earning a standing ovation from the rainbow-filled crowd, Beshear took to the podium to add his voice to the call for a statewide fairness law and a ban on conversion therapy.

"Kentucky cannot reach its full potential if all of our people don't feel supported to be themselves," the Democrat told the audience. "Discrimination against our LGBTQ brothers and sisters is absolutely unacceptable in this commonwealth."

The appearance marked a dramatic shift not only from former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's posture toward gay rights, but from Beshear's father's administration ⁠— which defended the state's same-sex marriage ban in court in 2014. The elder Beshear later revealed in his book People Over Politics that he backed same-sex marriage but wanted to see a final resolution in the case.

A handful of Republicans have become more vocal in their support of LGBT issues this session, including Lexington Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, who made a passionate case for barring conversion therapy on the chamber floor. 

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.