KY Statewide Fairness Laws Prefiled with Bipartisan SupportHEROES Act would Restore LGBTQ Veterans Benefits

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A slew of pro-LGBTQ bills for the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly were prefiled this week, including the first “Statewide Fairness Law” co-introduced in the State House by a Republican and the “HEROES Act,” which would restore state veterans’ benefits to some LGBTQ ex-servicemembers.

“Statewide Fairness Laws,” which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to state discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations, were prefiled separately this week as Bill Request 990 by Rep. Patti Minter (D-Bowling Green) and Bill Request 836 by Rep. Lisa Willner (D-Louisville) and Rep. Kim Bata (R-Ft. Mitchell), who makes history as the first House Republican to take the lead on LGBTQ discrimination protections.

During the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly, Senator Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) and Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) became the first bipartisan team to co-introduce a “Statewide Fairness Law” in the Kentucky General Assembly.

Efforts to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in state law will be bolstered next year by the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which interprets federal sex discrimination protections in employment to include LGBTQ people.

Twenty Kentucky municipalities have approved local “Fairness Ordinances,” which mirror the “Statewide Fairness Law.” Combined, these ordinances cover nearly one-third of the commonwealth.

The “HEROES Act,” which stands for “Honoring Equal Rights Of Ex-Servicemembers,” would restore several state veterans’ benefits to LGBTQ former servicemembers who were discharged under the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy or due to their sexual orientation or gender identity at any time. It is the second year Rep. Minter has introduced the measure, prefiled as Bill Request 859.

Two bipartisan bills to ban the deadly anti-LGBTQ practice of “Conversion Therapy” were previously prefiled and heard in an interim joint committee as the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act,” Bill Request 216 by Senator Alice Forgy Kerr (R-Lexington) and Bill Request 99 by Rep. Willner and Rep. Banta.

Combined, these bill requests mark the most pro-LGBTQ laws prefiled in the Kentucky General Assembly in recent memory.
“After 21 years of working to enact LGBTQ rights in Bowling Green, I’m proud to continue the movement by introducing the ‘Statewide Fairness Law,’ which would protect LGBTQ Kentuckians from discrimination, and the ‘Honoring Equal Rights Of Ex-Servicemembers (HEROES) Act,’ which would send a clear message that all of our veterans matter, regardless of who they are or who they love,” Rep. Patti Minter (D-Bowling Green) said.

“The challenges of 2020 have shown us the importance of compassion, of kindness, and of looking out for one another. To carry on those lessons, we must build a Commonwealth that values and supports all Kentuckians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” shared Rep. Lisa Willner (D-Louisville). “Protecting the rights of all Kentuckians is not the exclusive domain of any political party. Today, along with my colleague Rep. Kim Banta, I’m honored to put forward a historic, bipartisan ‘Statewide Fairness Law.’ To pass it, we must work together across party, across regions of the state, and across any barriers that seek to divide us. It’s long past time to end discrimination in Kentucky, once and for all.”

“Justice Gorsuch, writing for the Supreme Court, has made it clear: ’It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating…based on sex.’ These are immutable characteristics that deserve equal protection under Kentucky law. It is entirely possible to live in a society where religious liberty and LGBTQ rights exist—the Constitution commands it,” said Rep. Kim Banta (R-Ft. Mitchell).

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