Equality Alabama's Ken Baker passes away
Ken Baker of Equality Alabama passed away over the weekend. It was unexpected and untimely. He was the brother of blogger, Blender, and amazing ally Kathy McMullen of Birmingham Blues. When Equality Alabama opened its office in Montgomery in 2005, just down the street from Gov. Bob Riley and the president of the state's branch of the Christian Coalition, John Giles, Ken sent along pictures of the triumphant open house to post on the Blend.
He was also quoted in the Decatur Daily.
Ken Baker of Montgomery, one of the volunteers who helped refurbish the new office, said increased visibility is the key to changing public opinion.
“The South is the only part of the country where the majority of the people say they don't know someone who is gay or lesbian,” Baker said.
More after the jump.
Ken also worked tirelessly in opposing Alabama's bigoted marriage amendment, which eventually became law. When homophobic then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice (and failed gubernatorial candidate) Roy Moore declared war on gays and lesbians in his state in 2002 during a custody case, Ken was right there. (NYT):
Gay rights organizations in Alabama and Washington called yesterday for the resignation of Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court, who wrote in a child-custody opinion issued on Friday that homosexuality was considered ''abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God.'' Chief Justice Moore, who was championed by the religious right as a lower court judge after he hung a copy of the Ten Commandments on his courtroom wall, argued in a concurring opinion that homosexuality was an ''inherent evil against which children must be protected.'' He said homosexuals were ''presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this state.''
…''He has shown there is no way he can fairly judge any cases involving gay and lesbian citizens of Alabama or their family and friends,'' Ken E. Baker, chairman of Equality Begins at Home, said in Montgomery.
…Mr. Baker said he considered the chief justice's words as an invitation to violence. He noted that Tuesday was the third anniversary of the beating death of Billy Jack Gaither, a gay Alabamian who was bludgeoned and burned by two men who confessed that they had been incited by Mr. Gaither's homosexuality.
''He knows the power of words like 'inherently evil,' '' Mr. Baker said of Chief Justice Moore. ''All he didn't do was hand out the rope.''
Fighting bigotry and intolerance in Red State America is the real deal. Ken lived out and proud. Our thoughts go out to Ken's family, including Kathy and his partner Tony. You can email Kathy at birminghambluesATbellsouthDOTnet.
Kathy has Ken's obituary up at her blog.