The Fairness Coalition in Kentucky is continuing its push for a statewide anti-discrimination law. The coalition held a rally in Frankfort on Wednesday to urge state lawmakers to favor legislation that would bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Currently, online the cities of Louisville, Lexington and Covington have laws giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals civil rights protections.
Louisville Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman says LGBT residents can still be fired from their jobs or kicked out of restaurants, but public opinion is beginning to change.
“Our survey shows 83 percent of Kentuckians across the board are supportive in vast majorities of this type of discrimination protections. That really speaks to what the public opinion is,” he says. “These are very simple laws that serve to protect everyone. And really just make the commonwealth better.”
State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington and Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, have introduced twin Fairness bills in their chambers. Both bills have been assigned to their respective Judiciary Committees, but neither the Senate nor House have ever been debated such legislation.
Despite never having a hearing, gay rights advocates are confident state leaders will address social issues during this legislative session because it has economic ramifications.
“When people are thinking about where they are going to come for their employment, particularly young people who are just graduating from college who are going to bring their higher education with them, they will look at anti-discrimination laws when they’re making their choices,” says Hartman. “Having these Fairness laws speaks to the tenor the entire state takes when it comes to diversity and prohibiting discrimination.”
The campaign’s television commercials highlighting the survey showing that 83 percent of registered voters support civil rights protections for LGBT residents.