Business coalition in Kentucky backs LGBT rights bill

Lawyers for both sides argued their case before the state Supreme Court on Thursday.

Lawyers for both sides argued their case before the state Supreme Court on Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Passing statewide legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination would be good for Kentucky businesses, advocates said Thursday.

Nearly 200 businesses have signed up for the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, which was announced Thursday. The group is joining the debate on long-stalled legislation aimed at protecting gay, bisexual and transgender Kentuckians from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public places.

Without guaranteeing such protections, people can be fired simply “because of who you love,” said state Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville.

Along with strengthening the state’s civil rights law, the measure would help Kentucky companies attract employees, he said.

“As we recruit the best and brightest from around the country, we need to show that we have the inclusive and competitive atmosphere where they want to live, where they want to work and they want to raise their families,” McGarvey said.

Eight cities in Kentucky have passed local ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those cities range from the state’s two largest — Louisville and Lexington — to the tiny Appalachian town of Vicco.

For more than a decade, however, the statewide version of the legislation died without receiving a hearing in the General Assembly. The measure received its first hearing in 2014 when the House Judiciary Committee took testimony, but it did not vote on the legislation.

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