HRC Blog

Mobilizing for LGBT Equality in Kentucky

Post submitted by Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign and a steering committee member of the Fairness Coalition, which includes ACLU-KY, Fairness Campaign, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and Lexington Fairness.

Municipal Equality IndexFrom the hills of Appalachia to our commonwealth’s capital and beyond, Kentuckians are mobilizing around LGBTQ Fairness like never before. And who could have known it would be our rural coal country leading the way? Yet when the Appalachian town of Vicco, population 334, passed the Fairness ordinance this January – making it the smallest city in America to ban LGBT discrimination – it affirmed everything our Fairness Coalition has been hearing as we’ve worked across the commonwealth: Kentucky is a state of fairness, and treating everyone with dignity and respect is just as much a rural value as an urban one.

83% of all registered Kentucky voters – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – support simple anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a recent poll. However, just under 11% of our state legislators have signed on to support a statewide ban on discrimination, which is why we have endeavored to build a groundswell of regional support through municipal fairness campaigns.

Since Vicco’s historic step – and its famed segment on The Colbert Report – thousands of local residents have become deeply involved in grassroots Fairness movements that span our entire commonwealth and work from a place of intersectional liberation, holding immigrants’ rights, anti-racism, trans rights, women’s rights, and others as central to our work for LGBTQ equality. When our state’s capital, Frankfort, became the fifth city in our commonwealth to outlaw LGBTQ discrimination this August, it became clear there’s no turning back. Now two other Eastern Kentucky cities – Morehead and Berea – are making moves to become the next municipalities with Fairness, and it just keeps spreading.


For more Municipal Equality Index success stories, and to see how your city ranked, visit www.hrc.org/MEI .

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