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The Problem with a Blue City in a Red State

It is Wednesday, the 26th day of March, in the year 2023. Today, the GAMA Board of Directors will meet at 7:00 PM in Naples 6, a room here at the Peppermill Resort and Casino. This is the last open board meeting of our time in Reno, NV, which is honestly the butthole of Nevada. I should know, I live in the armpit of Nevada these days.

This is the most important open board meeting that will occur since a public meeting in Columbus on 24 September of 2018. Our trade association does some good work for us, but tonight I hope they will spend time talking to us about the horrible mistake they have locked us into for some amount of time that sounds like it might be the next three years.

Picture of protests from Kentucky Statehouse following SB 150.
Protests at Kentucky Statehouse - Photo from Getty Images

Let me introduce you to SB 150, passed by the Kentucky Senate in 2023. SB 150 bans medical care for trans kids, and restricts discussion of gender and sexual identity in schools, because sex ed has always been bad in the south, so let's make it even worse. SB 150 also forces teachers to disclose to parents if their student is using different pronouns at school than home, because nothing is better than forcing teachers to cause harm to students.

(EDIT - I've been asked to provide context.

Kentucky was at the forefront of "Religious Liberty" bills, because nothing is more fun than bigotry in the name of Christianity. In Kentucky it's legal to refuse service if you just don't think a person is living a lifestyle you agree with. Don't want them sitting your restaurant? Don't want to take pictures at their wedding? Don't want to make a cake? That's okay, you can just tell people they're going to hell and not help them.

Transgender students in Kentucky aren't allowed to use the bathroom that conforms to their gender identity, nor are they allowed to participate in any sports.

It is illegal to have HIV in Kentucky. (Yup, you can be arrested for carrying the disease.)

Your gender on your drivers license in Kentucky must match the gender on your birth certificate. A trans person in Kentucky may have their birth certificate changed AFTER surgery, but not before, stealing validation from thousands of trans adults and youth.

Homosexual partners in Kentucky struggle to adopt the children of partners, and while it's not technically illegal, partner adoption in same sex marriages is not legal either.

Blue cities don't just exist in red states, but they finance and protect red states. I've already heard 'Louisville isn't like that', but that belief is a false flag. Louisville generates about 35% of the total GDP in Kentucky, and $900M in tourism dollars each year for the state, much of that through revenues that GAMA will start contributing to the state next year, things like lodging taxes (8.5% of room rate), sales taxes (6% of all sales is state sales tax, there is no additional local or county taxes). Will withholding my taxes affect the $40B budget of Kentucky? Of course not. Will adding that money to the Kentucky general fund detract from my mental health, and my own belief system. Absolutely. So, I won't be going next year, and I'd encourage others to consider if they want to be part of a system that enables oppression of a minority group, because we historically already know how these things end, oppression of a minority, backed by a silent majority, has never been good in history. Many of these laws date back five years or more, while SB 150 is relatively recent. I hope this evening that the board will address what caused us to move to a state that is so hostile for so many of us. We talk about a Table for Every Gamer, and then we move the most important industry show of the year to place where many gamers aren't allowed at the table. We talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, but we're moving to place where Diversity of criticized, Equity is withheld, and Inclusion is, in my many cases, illegal. What were the factors that led to us choosing Louisville? Cost? Location? Does someone agree with their political leanings and thought they could teach us a lesson? What Louisville the cheapest place? The second cheapest place? Who led these decisions, and why wasn't information shared with a larger segment of membership before this choice? Anyone who follows state house politics across the country could have told you where Kentucky was ten years ago, and five years ago, and where it was headed. Have we pursued all options to remove ourselves from Louisville, in particular lawsuits to end this contract either immediately or after one year? Have we begun the process of locating alternative sites in other states? Who is in charge of that? Who is assisting? Have we begun the process of remote access to GAMA 2024 for people who can't even safely step foot in the next convention? I hope tonight we'll get those answers, and I hope tonight you'll join me in Naples 6 at 7:00 PM.

(EDIT - I have been asked to add some information. GAMA says that it would cost $1M or more to break the contract, and that in the future they will require out clauses in all contracts for instances like this. I find this information to be offensive, because most of these discriminatory laws in Kentucky predate 2019 when this contract was signed. I also want to know what steps were taken and what avenues pursued to get out of this contract, because a call to the hotel saying 'we want out' is not a step.)

I'll see you all tonight in Naples 6, wear some rainbows, I will be.

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