Kentucky's House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Wednesday on a proposed statewide Fairness Bill. The legislation, sponsored by Louisville Representative Mary Lou Marzian, would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations based on sexual orientation.
The committee heard from former Louisville area police sergeant Kile Nave, who testified he was dismissed for being gay.
Nave told the panel he is a “proud Christian, a gun owner, Republican, and gay.” “I belong to a church that is very supportive of everyone. I have always been raised to believe that we’re all supposed to be equal and we don’t judge people, that’s not our position. There is someone who will judge all of us one day and obviously that’s not for us to do on earth,” said Nave.
Nave was fired from his police position in 2012 after serving as an officer for 23 years.
The Vice President of the spirits and wine company Brown Foreman offered his testimony in support of the fairness bill.
Ralph Dechabert says his company has had an all inclusive anti-discrimination policy for nine years. “We’re just real clear that there’s a tremendous opportunity, there’s a market there that acting can be mined. And it’s not different than if we’re looking at the African American market, the Latino market, women. It’s an opportunity,” said Dechabert.
Dechabert says members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community want to know the business cares about issues that impact them.
The committee took no action on the bill. House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover said he does not sense widespread support for it among lawmakers of either political party. “I don’t know if it’s the conduct or if’s more of a concern of creating a protected class that many people object to, either on moral grounds or other grounds,” said Hoover.
Kentucky Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman admits the bill may not get a vote this session. He contends there’s a disconnect between favorable public opinion on the issue and attitudes among Kentucky lawmakers.