Two anti-LGBT bills were filed on the first day of the Kentucky General Assembly--a "License to Discriminate" House Bill 105 and anti-transgender "Bathroom Bill" House Bill 106. Both measures were filed by Middlesboro Democrat Representative Rick Nelson. They come on the heels of critical statements from Republican Governor Matt Bevin, who recently eschewed anti-transgender bathroom legislation, calling it "silly" and "unnecessary." Similarly, newly-elected Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover has repeatedly reiterated his focus on legislation that fosters economic expansion and job growth over anti-LGBT measures.
"License to Discriminate" HB 105 mirrors legislation introduced by London Senator Albert Robinson last year that would strip the enforcement powers from local Fairness Ordinances passed in cities and counties across Kentucky. Since 1999, eight Kentucky cities have outlawed LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations--Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead, and the Appalachian town of Vicco. HB 105 additionally opens the door to challenge religious and racial discrimination protections, which have been in place in Kentucky since the 1960s. Some individuals who could legally face discrimination under HB 105 include:
- Single mothers
- Individuals who are divorced or remarried
- LGBT people
- Interfaith or interracial couples
"Bathroom Bill" HB 106 would outlaw transgender people from using any restroom or changing facility under the jurisdiction of the state that matches their gender identity. "Every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility under control of a city, county, urban-county, consolidated local government, charter county, or unified local government shall be designated for and used only by persons based on their biological sex."
Similar anti-LGBT legislation in North Carolina, Indiana, and other states have cost millions and billions of dollars in lost tourism, corporate expansion and investment, and job growth. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law has estimated a $5 billion-a-year loss resulting from North Carolina's House Bill 2.
"The effect of passing discriminatory legislation is clear," shared Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. "If Kentucky leaders want to remain focused on improving our commonwealth's economy, this is exactly the legislation they should avoid.
A growing number of Kentucky employers have signed on to oppose anti-LGBT legislation in the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, which also supports expansion of LGBT discrimination protections statewide in the "Kentucky Competitive Workforce Act" Senate Bill 63, introduced by Louisville Senator Morgan McGarvey.