After Henderson, What's Next For Kentucky 'Fairness' Movement?

Jun 26, 2019

Supporters of a Fairness Ordinance rallied in Bowling Green in May, but lost a vote in the city commission.
Credit Colin Jackson

The leader of a Kentucky LGBTQ-rights group is optimistic another city in the state will pass a Fairness Ordinance by the end of August.

Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, made the prediction on the heels of the Henderson City Commission adopting a Fairness Ordinance at its meeting Tuesday night.

Hartman said advocates in other cities are encouraged whenever laws are passed that expand legal protections for the LGBTQ community.

“Each time a city like Henderson passes an ordinance, we get a flurry of emails at the Fairness Campaign from folks in other communities wanting to start their own fairness movements, and that’s exactly how it begins,” he said.

Hartman added he’s “90 percent” sure a 12th Kentucky city will pass a Fairness Ordinance by the end of August. He refused to name the city, saying opponents of LGBTQ rights often start to lobby local government officials to oppose Fairness Ordinances when the issue begins to gain publicity.

Bowling Green and Owensboro are the largest Kentucky cities without a Fairness Ordinance. The Bowling Green City Commission defeated a proposal earlier this year on a vote of 3-2.

The Owensboro City Commission considered the ordinance in 2014, but tabled the issue without ever taking a vote on it.

Hartman thinks the passage of a Fairness Ordinance in Henderson will inspire supporters in neighboring Daviess County.

“There’s been quite a bit of conversation in Owensboro again. I imagine we’re going to see a new emergent movement there in the next several months. And again—it’s probably not going to happen overnight. Folks are going to have to work in an intentional way to change the makeup of city leadership in order to make fairness more palatable there.”

Hartman said his group’s ultimate goal is to get a bill passed by the state legislature banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.