Kentucky

LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in the States

Kentucky
No Statewide LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections
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LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in Kentucky:

There are currently no explicit, comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people in Kentucky.

The Latest on LGBTQ Nondiscrimination in Kentucky:

State and national advocates are working toward furthering the conversation of why nondiscrimination protections matter in Kentucky.

During the 2016 legislative session, Kentucky made some steps forward in protecting its LGBT residents from discrimination. In February the legislature introduced Senate Bill 176 — the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Act — as well as a companion bill, House Bill 155. Both would have amended existing civil rights statutes to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This was the first time ever that an LGBT non-discrimination bill was filed in Kentucky with bipartisan support.

However, lawmakers also introduced Senate Bill 180, a “license to discriminate” that would have allowed businesses to cite their religion as an excuse to deny service to LGBT customers. It also would have stripped municipalities of LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances they have already passed, and while it was passed by the Senate, it did not advance further.

History of LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Kentucky:

  • 1999: The city of Henderson adopts a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance, however, a group of city commissioners later repeals the ordinance in 2001.
  •  2003: Governor Paul Patton issues an executive order banning discrimination against state workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • 2006: Newly installed Governor Ernie Fletcher removes the existing employment nondiscrimination policy.
  • 2008New Governor Steve Beshear re-instates former governor Patton’s original nondiscrimination protections at the state level.
  • 2013In March, both houses of the Kentucky legislature pass the Religious Freedom Act which requires the state to show “clear and convincing evidence” for any statutes or policies that infringe on an individual’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill is supported by the Kentucky Family Foundation. More than 50 civil rights, public health, religious and other community groups urge Governor Steve Beshear to veto the legislation, including the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Association of Counties, and the Kentucky ACLU. Beshear vetoes the bill, but the legislature overrides his veto by votes of 79-15 in the House and 32-6 in the Senate.
  • February 11, 2016: Senate Bill 176, a bill that would update the state’s civil rights laws to protect LGBT people, is introduced in the legislature. The following week, a “license to discriminate” bill is also introduced, passing the Senate later by a 22-16 vote.
  • April 1, 2016: Governor Matt Bevin signs legislation ensuring only one marriage license will be used for both different-sex and same-sex couples, laying to rest a months-long statewide discussion about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
  • April 15, 2016: The Kentucky legislative session ends with all anti-LGBT legislation defeated – and significant momentum forward for non-discrimination in the future.
  • March, 2017Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signs into effect Senate Bill 17 (abbreviated as SB 17). This premise of this piece of legislation is to allow greater freedom of religion in public schools. Many advocates for LGBTQ-rights claim that this law is anti-LGBTQ, and that religious freedom is just a guise to limit the rights of LGBTQ students. Furthermore, there is also concern surrounding the fact that this law pertains to public schools, which receive federal funding and are therefore under many of its rules and limitations when comes to public education.

Municipalities with LGBTQ Non-Discrimination in Kentucky:

The following municipalities protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity:

  • City of Bellevue
  • City of Cold Spring
  • City of Covington
  • City of Danville
  • City of Dayton
  • City of Fort Thomas
  • City of Frankfort
  • City of Georgetown
  • City of Henderson
  • City of Highland Heights
  • City of Lexington
  • City of Louisville
  • City of Maysville
  • City of Midway
  • City of Morehead
  • City of Newport
  • City of Paducah
  • City of Versailles
  • City of Vicco
  • Lexington-Fayette County
  • Louisville-Jefferson County
  • Woodford County

The following municipalities protect people from discrimination in housing only on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity:

  • City of Ashland

Last Updated January 05, 2021

Active Litigation

Chelsea Nelson Photography, LLC v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government

Case Seeking Religious Exemptions from LGBTQ Non-Discrimination Laws

Key Date: February 27, 2020 • Statement of Interest Filed by Department of Justice
Status: Pending before Federal District Court in Kentucky
Legal Team: Alliance Defending Freedom
Type: Public Accommodations Discrimination

The lawsuit seeks to preempt a local ordinance in Louisville, Kentucky that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in places of public accommodation.

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