LOUISVILLE, Ky. — During Fancy Farm this year, a handful of Republican politicians made jokes against the LGBTQ community, specifically about the transgender community, during their stump speeches. Spectrum News 1 reached out to the Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky LGBTQ advocacy organization, to hear their response. The organization’s Executive Director Chris Hartman said, “Shame on Kentucky Republicans for trying to turn Kentucky’s trans kids into political pawns for votes.” 

What You Need To Know

  • Held on the first Saturday in August, Fancy Farm is an annual political picnic in western Kentucky, where many political candidates running for upcoming elections give stump speeches to raucous crowds

  • This year, a handful of Republican politicians turned their rhetoric against the transgender community in their speeches

  • A theme within those speeches included transgender people playing sports

  • Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky LGBTQ advocacy organization, called those who made the comments extreme and said they were hurtful

What politicians serve up annually at the Fancy Farm Picnic is why Hartman told Spectrum News 1 he intentionally avoids it.

“I mean I get enough of the ham that they dish out at the state capitol in Frankfort so I typically feel like I don’t need to hear it from the stage of Fancy Farm, as well, where the rhetoric and the vitriol is so much more peaked,” Hartman explained.

The Fairness Campaign is an advocacy organization focused on legislation that prohibits LGBTQ discrimination. Since its founding in 1991, 24 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have passed Fairness Ordinances, which outlaw LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Every year Republicans and Democrats are invited to speak at Fancy Farm, but for the past few years the GOP has made up the majority of speeches. This year three Democrats and 10 Republicans spoke at the event. 

Fancy Farm emcee and Republican House Speaker David Osborne (R-59), U.S. Congressman James Comer (R-KY), Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), State Auditor Mike Harmon (R), and Kentucky lawmaker Richard Heath (R-2) were politicians who made comments against the LGBTQ community in their speeches. U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was not at Fancy Farm, but his wife, political author Kelley Paul subbed for him. Her rhetoric against transgender people was the most extensive.

“Biden says, ‘Don’t worry, we are not in a recession. Well, I wouldn’t expect a Democrat to know what a session is. They can’t even define what a woman is,” she said during her speech. 

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers overrode Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 83, which banned transgender girls in sixth through 12th grades from playing girls’ sports and transgender women from playing on college women’s teams. 

“This is a tactic as old as time, and these comments would’ve been about gay marriage ten or 20 years ago. Unfortunately, trans kids are the attack du jour right now for conservatives to try to speak once again to an extremist base,” Hartman said.

Hartman added the Fairness Campaign does have the support of some Kentucky Republican lawmakers, but he called those who made anti-LGBTQ comments extreme and said their comments were harmful.

“These are the types of comments that make, particularly trans kids, feel higher levels of depression, experience higher rates of self-harm and unfortunately suicide,” he said.

Hartman believes candidates who use anti-LGBTQ rhetoric during their 2022 midterm election campaigns will lose votes.

“And I don’t dare to say that many of them will lose, but I do think that their margins will not be quite as broad as they first imagined,” Hartman said.

Hartman said the Fairness Campaign will keep what politicians say in mind as the advocacy organization considers who it will endorse and support come Nov. 8.