The Kentucky Farm Bureau: Hams, Homophobes, and the GOP

The Kentucky Farm Bureau: Hams, Homophobes, and the GOP

The Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) created in is a 1909 is an organization of powerful farm families and their allies dedicated to serving as the voice of agriculture in the Bluegrass state.  Since the beginning membership has soared to more than 500,000 Kentucky families.(The state of KY’s total population is 4.4 million)   KFB Programs include Public Affairs, Farm Bureau Insurance and other member services, Women’s Leadership Activities, Ag in the Classroom, Safety, Health and Wellness, Theft Reward, Estate Planning, Commodity Market Information, Scholarships, and anti-LGBT bigotry.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation promotes discriminatory policies that are anti-LGBT, anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-choice, and pro-death penalty, among others.  Each year, Kentucky Farm Bureau customers are automatically charged a fee that enrolls them as members of the company’s 501(c)4 lobbying arm. While every state and federal legislator is mailed a “Kentucky Farm Bureau Policies” manual, which details the group’s discriminatory stances, the manual is not sent to paying customers.

KY Farm Bureau Policies: 

*We are opposed to any state-supported agency providing benefits to “domestic” partners.

 *The institution of marriage should only be recognized as the legal union of a man and a woman.

*We strongly oppose teacher strikes. We oppose legislation that mandates collective bargaining for public school employees.

*”Alternative lifestyles” should not be taught in public schools.

*We support the enactment of right-to-work legislation.

*We recommend the federal prevailing wage law be repealed when dealing with government contracts.

*We oppose an increase in the minimum hourly wage.

*We strongly oppose any mandate that would require any government entities to recognize and collectively bargain with employees

*Furthermore, we oppose public employees being permitted to strike, organize work stoppage or slow-downs.

*We oppose unionization of farmers and farm laborers.

*We strongly believe in the value of all individuals both born and unborn.

· *We support capital punishment.       

What the hell does any of that have to do with farming and agriculture?  Nothing.  What the hell does it have to do with the Republican party?  Everything. The KFB is one of the state’s largest lobbying groups.

At a protest staged outside the Farm Bureau’s annual Ham Breakfast at the Kentucky State Fair organized by the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, and the Jefferson County Teachers Association, Lexington Mayor and Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray says the Kentucky Farm Bureau should change its policies that oppose same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues.

“I think the Farm Bureau needs to adjust and adapt to the times, and that means adjusting their policies,” Gray said after wading through a crowd of pro-LGBTQ protesters outside the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual Ham Breakfast event in Louisville on Thursday morning.

Gray is openly gay and running against Republican Sen. Rand Paul in his bid for reelection.

The Kentucky Fairness Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, has demonstrated outside of the annual event at the Kentucky State Fair for years, opposing the Farm Bureau’s stances against same-sex marriage, domestic benefits for same-sex couples and abortion.

During his welcome address, KFB President Mark Haney defended the organization, which he said “does not discriminate” and bases its positions on input from members.

“We will not apologize for our democratic, grassroots process, the principles of which have served our nation very well for a long time and our organization for 97 years,” Haney said. 

Others in attendance included Republican U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and Tea Party Republican Gov. Matt Bevin joked about the protesters outside.

“I know some people don’t like ham, but I don’t know if you saw some of these people outside, they’re taking it to an extreme,” Bevin said. “Somebody asked me what I thought about these protesters and I thought, well, just don’t eat the ham, it’s alright.”

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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