With a vote of three to two on June 25, 2019, the Western Kentucky town of Henderson, population 28,657, became the eleventh city in the state to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The Fairness Ordinance vote came 20 years after the Henderson City Commission originally passed a Fairness Ordinance, which made it only the third Kentucky city in 1999 with LGBTQ protections alongside Louisville and Lexington. In 2001, a new Henderson City Commission repealed the ordinance and did not consider it again until former Mayor Joan Hoffman brought the issue back up to commission last fall.
Mayor Pro Tem Brad Staton, Commissioner X.R. Royster, and Commissioner Austin P. Vowels cast votes for the ordinance, while Mayor Steve Austin and Commissioner Patti Bugg voted against it. Last month, nearly 100 Henderson residents attended a city-moderated town hall on the Fairness Ordinance, with most in attendance speaking in favor of the ordinance.
Ten other Kentucky cities have adopted local Fairness Ordinances, covering just over a quarter of the state's population--Louisville (1999), Lexington (1999), Covington (2003), Vicco (2013), Frankfort (2013), Morehead (2013), Danville (2014), Midway (2015), Paducah (2018), and Maysville (2018). Statewide Fairness Laws are annually introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly, but have never received votes in nearly 20 years. This year, nearly a quarter of state legislators co-sponsored the laws.