Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Jeffery Wasson

Historical marker #2545 commemorates the legal case Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Jeffery Wasson and the successful challenge to Kentucky's discriminatory anti-sodomy statute.

Lexington police arrested Jeffery Wasson during the fall of 1985 as part of an undercover operation that targeted gay men. Ultimately, the sting resulted in nineteen men being charged with violating Kentucky's sodomy law and were subject to penalties of up to a year in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Eighteen chose not to contest the charges and received various punishments, but Wasson decided to challenge the statute in court. He found an ally in attorney Ernesto Scorsone and they worked to contest the constituionality of the anti-sodomy law.

The legal battles proved arduous and stretched over the course of years, yet Wasson stayed the course. In 1992, he and the rest of the gay community in Kentucky and beyond, began to reap some of the rewards for his persistence when the Kentucky Supreme Court nullified the anti-sodomy statute. The Justices ruled that the constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky guarantees the right to privacy and equal protection to private relationships without regard to sexual orientation. Far from addressing the myriad systems of oppression faced by the LGBTQ community, the ruling nonetheless represented an important step on the road to equal protections under the law.

Marker #2545 was dedicated in a joint ceremony along with #2539, "Historic LGBTQ Site," in front of a large and enthusiastic audience. Hundreds of folks came out to the Livery see the first two markers in the Kentucky Marker program to focus directly on LGBTQ history. The size of the crowd was a clear indication of the broad support in the community for commemorating LGBTQ history and they were treated to remarks from the sponsors of both markers. After brief remarks from Brandl Skirvin and Mary Ellen Hart, board members of JustFundKY, and Dr. Andrew Patrick, Community Engagement Coordinator at the Kentucky Historical Society, Ernesto Scorsone gave a moving address on the bravery and sarafice embodied by Jeffery Wasson, but also reflected in countless others and Dr. Jonathan Coleman recounted the long LGBTQ history that has transpired at the Bar Complex on East Main Street. Throughout the dedication event, there was a strong sense from both speakers and the audience that while these were the first LGBTQ markers in the program, they would soon have lots of company. 

The marker reads:

Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Jeffrey Wasson

At this site in the fall of 1985,
undercover police operations
targeted gay men. Nineteen were
charged with violating Kentucky’s
sodomy law, which carried a
penalty of up to 12 months in jail,
a $500 fine or both. Only Jeffrey
Allen Wasson challenged the
Sponsored by Just Fund Education Project, Inc.

Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Jeffrey Wasson

After a long legal battle the
Kentucky Supreme Court nullified
the anti-sodomy statute in 1992.
The Court ruled that Kentucky’s
Constitution guarantees the
right to privacy and equal
protection to private, consensual
and adult same-sex relationships.
Sponsored by Just Fund Education Project, Inc.

The marker was dedicated on June 3, 2018.