In a move that protects more than 30,000 current employees, outgoing Kentucky Governor Paul Patton (D) last month signed an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination against state government workers and job applicants, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer/Associated Press. The order, pushed heavily by state Senator Ernesto Scorsone (D-Fayette), makes Kentucky the first state in the South to offer state workers legal protection in this arena and makes Patton the first US governor to implement the measure through executive order.
Similar “fairness ordinances” already exist in the state’s three largest cities – Louisville, Lexington, and Covington, according to the Kentucky Fairness Alliance (KFA), the state’s primary gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) rights organization. “We’re feeling like we’re on a roll with the nondiscrimination legislation enacted in Covington in April, and the city of Lexington just granted their employees domestic partnership benefits, and now this executive order,” said KFA Executive Director Andrea Hildebran.
Because term limits force Patton to leave office this fall, activists are working to garner sufficient public support should the succeeding governor consider repealing the order.
“I think with six months of [Patton’s] term left we can show that there is strong support for this legislation,” Scorsone told Gay.com. “It’s of course a lot easier to keep a right than to get one.”