Jordan Palmer is an American social activist, Kentucky politician, civil rights activist, entrepreneur, and the founder of the Kentucky Equality Federation. Palmer is from Hazard, Kentucky and is credited for having Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1 (banning same-sex marriage), being struck down by a Kentucky judge, pushing the first hate crime convictions under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and holding the first equality protests against a sitting governor and members of the Kentucky House of Representatives. Palmer was the first openly gay person to run for the Kentucky Senate.
Personal life #
Jordan Palmer is the son of a Church of Christ minister.
Gay rights #
In early 2006, Palmer founded Kentucky Equal Rights (later renamed Kentucky Equality Federation by a majority vote of its members) to advance the interests of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Palmer also served as on the Board of Directors and the Executive Vice President of Development of Marriage Equality USA based in San Francisco, California from 2007-2009.
Kentucky Equality Federation #
Denied Marriage Licenses #
In February 2009 Palmer organized gay and lesbian couples going to county court clerks offices in Kentucky to apply for a same-sex marriage license only to be denied. Palmer told the media his intention was to raise awareness of Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages. The action was condemned by the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which Palmer dismissed as “another example of how so-called family organizations are some of the most useless, money-hungry scams in the world with their bizarre and all-encompassing ‘gay fetish.'”
Marriage Equality Lawsuit #
On September 10, 2013 the Kentucky Equality Federation sued the Commonwealth of Kentucky in Franklin Circuit Court claiming Kentucky’s 2004 Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage violated sections of the commonwealth’s constitution. Case # 13-CI-1074 was assigned by the Franklin County Court Clerk (the location of the Kentucky State Capitol). The lawsuit was conceived by President Jordan Palmer, written and signed by Vice President of Legal Jillian Hall, Esq.
Jordan Palmer stated to the media that:
Kentucky added a facially unconstitutional amendment to its constitution via a ballot initiative process. Thus, the attempt to abrogate constitutional sensibilities in favor of a ballot initiative, as was done for Section 233A of the Kentucky Constitution in 2004, is against the very notion of equal protection as guaranteed to each and all of Kentucky’s population. This should be held as true as a matter of law by the Courts, regardless of the ballot’s outcome.
Governor Steve Beshear’s legal representatives initially responded by citing foreign laws, and that gay and lesbian people could not reproduce as a reason to quash the lawsuit.
On April 16, 2015, Kentucky Equality Federation v. Beshear also known as Kentucky Equality Federation v. Commonwealth of Kentucky was ruled on by Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Wingate. Judge Wingate sided with Kentucky Equality Federation against the Commonwealth and struck down Kentucky Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriages. Judge Wingate also struck down all laws passed by the Kentucky General Assembly. At the request of Governor Steve Beshear’s legal representation, the Judge also placed a stay on the order pending a ruling from a Kentucky appellate court (such as the Kentucky Court of Appeals or Kentucky’s court of last resort, the Kentucky Supreme Court) or the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit was a significant victory for the Kentucky Equality Federation and the same-sex marriage civil rights movement.
Kentucky’s statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage void and unenforceable for violating Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s Members Constitutional Rights”, ruled Judge Wingate.
Marriage Equality USA #
Palmer served on the board of directors of Marriage Equality USA from 2006-2009. Palmer worked across the state of California to fight 2008 California Proposition 8. During and after the No Prop 8 Campaign, Palmer told change.org and Time Magazine that he was concerned that the organization didn’t utilize the grassroots community to its potential and recognizing the harm associated with a campaign run by political consultants without sufficient accountability or transparency to the larger community.  
First Hate Crime Convictions #
When Kevin Pennington was attacked in the Appalachian mountains, Palmer demanded the U.S. Department of Justice prosecute his assailants under the U.S. Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Palmer succeeded and was active in the preparation of the trail. David Jason Jenkins, of Cumberland, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, of Partridge, was indicted and convicted in U.S. District Court in London, KY.  
After the trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky promised to step-up hate crime conviction, a move hailed as progress by Palmer.
Palmer stepped down in 2012 from the Kentucky Equality Federation. In 2014, he ran running for Kentucky State Senate, being the first openly gay person in Kentucky to do so. Palmer lost to the incumbent and returned to lead the Kentucky Equality Federation and its member organizations.
Palmer continues to be an advocate for equality across Kentucky and the United States.
On July 09, 2021, Palmer threatened to sue the Leslie County Board of Education in Southeastern Kentucky for not allowing a lesbian couple to attend prom together and painting over a pride flag.