With a vote of 4-1 January 9th, Paducah (population 25,145) became the ninth Kentucky city to adopt a Fairness Ordinance, prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
More than 250 residents packed city hall for the vote, which makes Paducah the only city in Western Kentucky with LGBT discrimination protections.
Mayor Brandi Harless, Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Wilson, and Commissioners Sarah Stewart Holland and Allan Rhodes voted in favor of the measure. The lone vote of dissent came from Commissioner Richard Abraham, who also offered a broad religious exemption amendment for business owners. After debate, Commissioner Abraham's amendment failed 4-1.
Paducah joins eight other Kentucky cities that have passed similar LGBT Fairness Ordinances, including Covington (2003), Danville (2014), the state capital Frankfort (2013), Lexington (1999), Louisville (1999), Midway (2015), Morehead (2013), and the small Appalachian town of Vicco (2013).
The passage of Paducah's Fairness Ordinance highlights the ongoing effort to pass a similar Statewide Fairness Law that would update Kentucky's Civil Rights Law to include LGBT people in discrimination protections. A Statewide Fairness Law has been proposed in the Kentucky General Assembly for nearly two decades. While it received two public hearings in 2015 and 2016, the measure has never received a vote. State Senator Morgan McGarvey and State Representative Mary Lou Marzian both plan to file the bill in Kentucky's 2018 General Assembly.