"When I first came to Kentucky, my employer did not have domestic partner benefits, and we couldn't pay all our medical bills. As a lesbian/member of the LGBTQ community, I am proud to belong to an organization that fights for equality for all Kentuckians."
As KFTC has grown, expanding our vision of equality for all Kentuckians has been a labor of love and a transformative internal process. While many members shared this vision of equality for decades, in 2004 our Steering Committee shared a series of deeply emotional conversations, meetings, and personal reflections and eventually adopted language to our platform to include our LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer or Questioning) communities. Since then (and well before), our local chapters and statewide members have contributed to a growing movement for fairness, safety and celebration of diversity in Kentucky and beyond.
From offering our staff domestic partner benefits to lobbying our elected officials for fairness ordinances and anti-bullying legislation, KFTC members continue to prioritize our vision for a better Kentucky all Kentuckians deserve. As you can read in our blog feed below, our local chapters have recently prioritized LGBTQ equality through Fairness Ordinance organizing in Berea, safe restroom campaign in central Kentucky, creating LGBTQ support networks in Perry County, and much more.
What is a Fairness Ordinance: A Fairness Ordinance would prohibit discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We believe that all Kentuckians have a right to live without fear of unjust discrimination, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As written, Kentucky law does not guarantee this right, and must be changed. We support a statewide Fairness law and also Fairness ordinances at a local level until a statewide law is establish.
On the evening of June 9, the city of Danville became the 7th city in Kentucky to pass a local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance when the Danville City Commission approved a Fairness ordinance with a 4-1 vote. It was a long road to get there, one that local members of the Wilderness Trace KFTC chapter started walking back in 2012, shortly after the chapter officially formed.
Leading the way to pass Fairness in Danville were local KFTC members, Jane Brantley and Eric Mount. Well before their work on Fairness in Danville, both Jane and Eric worked in various ways for LGBT equality, from urging legislators to oppose the same-sex marriage amendment in 2004 (this amendment was recently ruled unconstitutional) to supporting their churches moving forward for LGBT equality. It wasn’t until 2012 that they felt moved to work for a Fairness ordinance in Danville.
“I became aware that cities in Kentucky were beginning to examine passage of local Fairness ordinances,” said Jane. “When the small town of Vicco in eastern Kentucky passed its ordinance, I thought, ‘Why not Danville? After all, we’re supposed to be the City of Firsts. We need to get busy.”
Members of the Northern Kentucky chapter will be tabling at the annual Northern Kentucky Pride festival, discussing ongoing work KFTC has across the state, and helping ensure more people are engaged in the fight against repression.
NOTE: Kate Grigg is an active member of the Madison County KFTC chapter and has recently left her position as Eastern Kentucky Organizer for the Fairness Coalition. She will leave Kentucky this summer to pursue her studies, and she offered up this reflection on her time working to pass a local Fairness ordinance in Berea.
As I leave my position with the Fairness Coalition, I am reflecting on the story of Bereans for Fairness. I started this job as Eastern Kentucky Regional Organizer in September of 2012, but Bereans for Fairness and I go back to the spring of 2011, just after I moved to Berea and just as the debate for Fairness began. Do you remember the second public forum at the community school? Hundreds of people showed up, the majority of them wearing blue to show their support for Fairness. Bereans for Fairness was born and we have been at it ever since.
In September of 2011, we worked with the Fairness Coalition and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth to organize an incredible rally and march. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Union Church. People shouted in front of the Berea Municipal building where city council holds its meetings. That same day, the city council voted to re-establish the Berea Human Rights Commission (HRC), reportedly a “first-step” on the way to Fairness for Berea.
Since then, Bereans for Fairness has showed incredible stick-to-itiveness. It has been slow-going and, at times, painfully frustrating. Yet, we have continued to meet and organize and do our best to keep the Fairness conversation on the forefront. We have held welcome receptions for the Berea HRC, led anniversary marches, and organized summer picnics. We have attended city council meetings and had individual conversations with council members and candidates, our mayor, HRC members, neighbors and friends. We solicited support from local businesses; at current count, we have an impressive list of 32 Business Supporters for Fairness. We have shared powerful stories and letters about why Fairness matters to us. We have flooded the council and the mayor time and time again with messages of our support for Fairness in Berea. We have also taken our voices to Frankfort, lobbying for a Statewide LGBT Fairness Law.
We are on the eve of having a first reading on an anti-discrimination Fairness ordinance in Berea. I am confident that this passionate, dedicated group of folks who call themselves Bereans for Fairness will not let up until we pass Fairness. What we are asking for is simple: basic civil rights that provide protection from discrimination in the areas of housing, public accommodations and employment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. No, these protections don’t already exist. Yes, they are needed. Isn’t it time for Berea to stand up and pass this ordinance?
As was expressed at a recent Bereans for Fairness meeting, the gift of the long struggle to pass this ordinance is the community of dedicated, caring folks who have formed around this work. I am grateful to have been a part of that. The ordinance will come; I know you will see to that. In the meantime, know that y’all have already made a difference.
Wednesday, February 19 is Fairness Lobby Day and Rally in support of House Bill 171 and Senate Bill 140. These bills would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s been a busy couple of months for members in the Wilderness Trace chapter.
In December, the chapter held its second annual holiday event, Cheers for Kentucky, at V the Market in Danville. Members took the opportunity to not only celebrate the great work the chapter had accomplished over the year, but to also educate people about the shifting political landscape in the chapter area. Because of redistricting, Boyle County is now represented by a new senator. Members posted large printouts of the new district maps and had conversations with people about the shift in legislators.