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Kentucky town to enact protections for gay city workers

Monday, February 4, 2013
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BEREA, Ky. — LGBT citizens scored another victory in Kentucky, as the small town of Berea prepares to expand anti-discrimination protections for city employees.

Mayor Steve Connelly announced last week that he will sign an executive order banning discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation in hiring, firing and benefits for the city’s 130 employees.

“Personally I think it’s the right thing to do, and in terms of our city, we were founded in 1853 with the idea that people were going to be treated equal,” Connelly said Friday.

The move comes just weeks after Vicco, Ky., approved the state’s first LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance in a decade.

The “fairness ordinance,” which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based upon a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, received support from three of the city’s four-member commission and Mayor Johnny Cummings.

Vicco’s law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment and housing in the town of about 330 people.

Berea has considered a similar citywide anti-discrimination ordinance. In 2011, the city council reestablished the city’s Human Rights Commission to gather information and investigate the issue.

Connelly said he would likely sign the executive order for city employees within the next week or so.

“My assessment is that (gay rights protection) is a historical trend and I would rather Berea be a leader than a latecomer” Connelly added.

The city council is also reviewing whether Berea should offer same-sex partner benefits to city employees, he said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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