Where do Beshear and Cameron stand on LGBTQ issues?

Published 3:06 pm Thursday, November 2, 2023

There are at least 144,000 LGBTQ Kentuckians over 13, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute.

About 3.4% of Kentucky’s adult population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, according to a Gallup Daily survey.

This election, transgender minors in particular have been the focus of many ads and headlines. So, where do Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron stand?

LGTBQ+ rights

In 2020, Beshear made history as the first sitting governor to attend a Fairness rally.

He spoke at a rally at the Capitol calling for legislation to ban conversion therapy and discrimination based on gender identity and sexuality.

Conversion therapy is still legal in the Commonwealth, despite several attempts to pass a bill banning mental health professionals from providing it.

As attorney general, Cameron has been involved in a case concerning Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance, passed in 1999.

The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

A Louisville photographer sued the city in 2019, stating that the ordinance violated her First Amendment right to refuse service if it conflicts with her religious beliefs.

In 2021, the photographer won her case in Sixth Circuit Court. The city of Louisville appealed the ruling.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado web designer who didn’t want to serve LGTBQ clients in a similar 2023 case, Cameron sent a letter to Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg asking the city to end its appeal in the Louisville photographer’s case.

Senate Bill 150

During the 2023 legislative session, Senate Bill 150 passed, which contained several provisions concerning transgender minors, including:

  • banning transgender minors from receiving puberty blockers or hormone therapy;
  • requiring those already using puberty blockers or hormone therapy to stop, or detransition;
  • banning gender reassignment surgery for transgender minors;
  • requiring transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex;
  • banning instruction on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation in all grades;
  • requiring parents or guardians to provide consent for any mental health services their child receives; and
  • allows school employees and students to not use a student’s preferred pronouns if they do not align with their biological sex.

Beshear vetoed the bill.

In his veto message, he cited concern over the high rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth as his motivation.

According to a 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ youth mental health, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year and nearly 1 in 5 transgender youth attempted suicide.

Youth who found their school to be LGBTQ-affirming reported lower rates of attempted suicide, according to the survey.

“Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population,” Beshear wrote. “Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth.”

Cameron supported SB150 in word and action, fighting for its enforcement in court.

He said that the now-law protects Kentucky kids from “irreversible harms” of “experimental drug treatments.”

“Moving forward, my office will continue to defend Senate Bill 150 and stand up for the right of children to be children, free from the influences of leftist activists and radical gender ideology,” he said after a legal victory allowing SB150 to be enforced.

Gender-affirming surgeries for minors

A key part of SB150 is the ban on gender reassignment surgeries for transgender minors.

Republican groups, including Cameron’s campaign, have used Beshear’s veto of the bill in several ads and many campaign speeches to argue that Beshear supports the surgeries.

Beshear has repeatedly said he doesn’t support them, and that his veto of SB150 was regarding its other provisions, not the gender reassignment ban.

Early this year, he said that no gender reassignment surgeries for minors had been performed in Kentucky.

However, a letter from University of Kentucky healthcare released later showed that there had been a few non-genital, gender-affirming surgeries performed on minors before SB150 passed.

Beshear said that he did not know about them. Cameron says he is lying.

Transgender women in sports

Beshear also vetoed a 2022 bill – Senate Bill 83 – that would ban transgender students from women’s sports.

In a veto message, he said he opposed the so-called “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” because the pre-existing Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s policy already “approached the issue of transgender sports participation with nuance, collaboration and a sense of fairness that would allow transgender children the opportunity to participate in sports without disturbing the competitive balance.”

The previous KHSAA policy had required hormone therapy for a certain period of time to minimize gender-related competitive advantages for transgender athletes, among other rules.

Beshear added that he thought the bill violated the equal protection rights by discriminating based on gender identity.

Cameron, for his part, sued the Biden administration over a policy that would have made discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity a violation of Title IX.