Kentuckians get first chance to pitch lawmakers on a statewide fairness ordinance

03/05/2014 06:51 PM

For the first time, a House panel heard Wednesday from supporters for a statewide fairness ordinance that would prevent Kentuckians from being turned away from businesses, housing or jobs on the basis of their sexual orientation.

A business leader, former police sergeant, a mayor, and a former Catholic priest outlined why they think it’s such an important move.

The remarks, while brief, proved historic for Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, who has brought the bill for 15-years.

The House Judiciary Committee, however, did not take it up for a vote. But the committee chairman, Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, applauded Marzian’s efforts and said he hopes to have the group back in committee.

House Bill 171 would amend Kentucky’s civil right’s law to include language which would exclude businesses and employers from discriminating against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Among those testifying was the chief diversity officer for Brown Forman who said the company has increased its sales and changed the perspective for the better among the lesbian, gay, transgender and bi-sexual community.

The panel also heard from Kile Nave, a former Audubon Police sergeant who was fired from his position after others learned he was gay. Nave said that Louisville’s fairness ordinance vindicated him.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters Thursday that while “attitudes are changing” on the subject, the bill is facing a “bit of a struggle right now.” He said the issues facing the bill are political in nature.

“In struggle where the rights of minorities are involved — no matter what causes the class to become a minority whether it’s conduct, or whether its creed or color or gender — it’s always more political than substantive,” he said.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, also introduced a fairness ordinance bill in the Senate and is hoping that bill will at least receive its first hearing this session even if the bill isn’t take up for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

McGarvey said last week he’s been trying to make the case to his Senate colleagues that the bill is aimed at making sure all Kentuckians have the same protections.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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