LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Advocates for LGBTQ+ issues in Kentucky hope that this Pride Month will mark the last one without statewide protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ indidivudals.
"Every Pride Month feels bigger in a way," said Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Fairness Campaign.
Lexington and Louisville are among the 21 Kentucky communities that have passed a fairness ordinance that prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Hartman said that these protections only cover about 30% of the state.
"We should have a consistent statewide law where the same protections exist no matter where you are in our Commonwealth," Hartman said. "And there's one mechanism for enforcement and then you take the burden off cities and counties to have these conversations and to pass these laws."
Representative Lisa Willner (D) and Representative Kim Banta (R) are among the five co-sponsors of Bill Request 45, which would amend KRS 344.010 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes against discrimination.
Bill Request 97, co-sponsored by Representative Patti Minter (D) and House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins (D), accomplishes the same goal. Jenkins also co-sponsored BR 45.
Both bill requests were prefiled on the first day of Pride Month.
"The task is going to be to turn this ally ship into sustained action," Hartman said.
Hartman also pointed to two other bill requests that he would like to see signed into law.
Rep. Banta (R) prefiled Bill Request 22, which would repeal KRS 510.100, a statute that relates to sodomy in the fourth degree.
The statute, which was passed in 1974, said "a person is guilty of sodomy in the fourth degree when he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex."
The Kentucky Supreme Court declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in 1992, but Hartman said it is important that the language be stricken from the books.
"We shouldn't have unjust laws on our books any longer once they have been stricken by courts or found to be repugnant forms of discrimination like this [bill] seeks to repeal," Hartman argued.
He also wants lawmakers to pass Bill Request 49, which is co-sponsored by the same lawmakers shepherding BR 45.
BR 49 would ban the discredited practice of conversion therapy.
"We know that not only is [conversion therapy] ineffective," Hartman said. "But it is harmful and sometimes deadly."
Lexington recently became the third city in Kentucky to ban the practice.