The Fairness Coalition has launched a statewide ad campaign supporting fairness ordinances across the state that would prevent people from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. Here is the ad below:
Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman tells LEO Weekly that the ad campaign has both a long-term and short-term goal.
“It’s really both,” says Hartman. “It’s the education effort that we need to be making in this state to close the gap of knowledge about the state of anti-discrimination fairness protections in Kentucky.
“What we learned when we got the results from the survey indicating that 83 percent of Kentuckians across the board support fairness in the state, we also learned that more than half of folks living in the commonwealth have no idea that fairness protections don’t already exist. Yes, they’re supportive, but they think it’s already the law. And so we really have to close that education gap in which people have no idea that Kentuckians can still be legally fired from their jobs, denied a place to live and be kicked out of a restaurant if someone thinks they’re different.”
Legislation is again being proposed in both the House and Senate during the current General Assembly to enact a statewide fairness ordinance for Kentucky. Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, is sponsoring the House legislation, while Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, is sponsoring the Senate bill.
Though their poll last year showed widespread support, getting such legislation through Frankfort remains a tough obstacle.
“The tide in the legislature could turn at any moment, because the public opinion is clearly out there,” Hartman says. “And as more and more people become aware of the fact that so many Kentuckians are supportive of this, that their neighbors have been supportive of this for a while and they just didn’t know it, once folks really begin to understand that people — that everyone — should have a right to earn a living, should be able to have a roof over their head, should be able to go to their favorite restaurant without fear of being kicked out because of who they are, that’s when these laws are going to start moving in the legislature.
“It could be soon, but you’re right, recent Kentucky legislative history would indicate that we still have a little bit of time on these things, but we’ll see. We always progress with hope.”
Only three cities in Kentucky — Louisville, Lexington and Covington — have a fairness ordinance. Citizens in Berea are pushing to become the fourth city to do so, and Berea recently created a Human Rights Committee to look into adopting one.