“Why does everybody in Frankfort hate us?” the mother asked Chad Aull (D-Lexington), her state representative.
The woman, whose child is transitioning as a transgender person, meant a flurry of anti-LGBTQ bills Republicans are pushing in the GOP supermajority House and Senate. Two bills squarely aimed at transgender Kentuckians have passed--one in the Senate, the other in the House.
Aull, who met the mother in his Frankfort office, lost no time telling her he opposes the legislation that Chris Hartman, Louisville-based executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, called “don’t-say-gay, don’t-say-trans bills on steroids.”
Added Aull, a freshman lawmaker who represents the 79th District: “She felt like everything coming out of Frankfort was hate and bigotry. I told her there are people up here who care about her and her child and I am one of those people.”
Aull conceded that the Democrats lack the votes to block the LGBTQ bills which Hartman also dubbed “Frankenstein monsters of anti-fairness laws – hydras of hate with all sorts of heads out there that are full of discriminatory, prejudicial, and downright deadly provisions.”
Republicans, nearly all of whom back the bills, command an 80-20 majority in the House. The GOP prevails in the Senate, 31-7.
SB 150, which the Senate approved 29-6 on a party line vote, seems almost certain to pass the House, which approved HB 470, 75-22, with a trio of Republicans joining Aull and his fellow Democrats in rejecting the measure. Some critics say the House bill is the worst of the anti-trans measures before the legislature.
Aull said he’s been on the losing side on more than a few votes. He cited HB 1. Another GOP measure, it cuts the state income tax as an apparent first step toward eliminating the levy. Critics say the bill will help enrich the already rich, blow a gaping hole in the state budget, and force the state to curb or eliminate needed social welfare programs.
“I fought against it, I spoke against it, and I voted against it,” Aull said. “It’s really bad in the long term for our state. You’ve got to fight to try to stop the bad legislation and speak against it. But when you lose the fight, you have to move on immediately and fight against or for something else. You have to be really good at compartmentalization and bifurcating your feelings.”
While most of Kentucky is various shades of Republican Red, Lexington, like Louisville, is mainly Blue-hued. Aull had no GOP opponent last November.
He knew he’d be part of a tiny — some would say almost hopeless — minority in Frankfort when he tossed his hat in the ring. “Whether you run or not, somebody is going to be your state rep,” Aull said. “Somebody’s going to be your state senator. So we have to have people willing to step up and run. If people don’t, you think it’s bad now – it’s going to get worse.”