Kentucky Governor Signs Gay/Trans Rights Order
Kentucky has become the first state in the South to offer legal protection from discrimination for gay and transgender state workers.
"I firmly believe it is essential to the effective operation of state government that all employees of the state and applicants for employment be treated fairly and equitably," Gov. Patton said in a press release. "This order simply reiterates the philosophy of this administration and establishes as state policy the principle that people should be judged by their qualifications and conduct in the workplace, not by their status."
"We're really excited about this," said state Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Fayette, who asked the governor for the executive order a few months ago and has been working on the order's language with the governor's staff. "I am really pleased with this news."
Scorsone said many members of the governor's cabinet have been supportive. The next step will be to integrate the order into Kentucky's personnel policy.
This is the first statewide protection for gay workers of any kind offered in Kentucky. Kentucky's largest cities, Lexington and Louisville -- and most recently Covington -- already have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Kentucky Fairness Alliance is Kentucky's main GLBT rights organization that fought for those nondiscrimination policies. Executive Director Andrea Hildebran said it's an exciting time for GLBT people in Kentucky.
"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 Hildebran. "We're really happy that the governor has taken such a principled stand. It's just the right thing to do."
Hildebran said Fairness' next step will be to make sure the next governor keeps the executive order in place. Because of term limits, Patton is a lame-duck governor who will leave office this fall.
"This is quite a legacy for the governor to leave," said Sen. Scorsone. "And I think with six months of his term left we can show that there is strong support for this legislation. It's of course a lot easier to keep a right than to get one."