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Small Kentucky Town's Mayor Honored for Legislation Protecting Gays

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights has awarded Vicco, Kentucky Mayor Johnny Cummings with a special award to recognize him and the city for creating local civil rights protections to the Vicco community and for expanding civil rights protections to cover people from discrimination who are not protected by federal and Kentucky laws.

Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Education and Outreach Field Supervisor Juan Pena presented the Kentucky Unbridled Spirit for Justice Award to Cummings at the recent Vicco City Council meeting.

“Mayor Cummings and the City of Vicco are to be commended for creating a local ordinance that includes the classes of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said John J. Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

“People belonging to these classes are not protected from discrimination by the United States or the Kentucky Civil Rights acts, and this move to do so on a local level demonstrates the kind of courage that our state's small Appalachian towns are known for,” Johnson said.

Vicco is in Perry County and has a population of 335 people. It became only the fourth city in the state to pass such an ordinance and is the first rural and small Kentucky town to do so. In fact, it is believed at this point by media to be the smallest municipality in the United States to pass a law that protects from discrimination people who are Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The ordinance was passed on Jan. 14.

In addition, the Vicco ordinance will ban discrimination based on the classes of race, religion, gender and age. The local law will be enforceable in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

Louisville, Lexington and Covington, are the other Kentucky cities with “fairness” ordinances, which are local civil rights ordinances that include the classes of sexual orientation and sexual or gender identity. Louisville and Lexington are the two largest urban centers in the state, and Covington is just across Ohio River bridges from the large city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Unbridled Spirit for Justice Award to Mayor Cummings states: “For his leadership in adopting local legislation to protect people from discrimination based on the classes of race, disability, national origin, religion, gender, age,  sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.”

“The Unbridled Spirit for Justice Award is given by the commission to people who are human and civil rights foot soldiers, individuals who stand in the gap, performing necessary, basic, and sometimes unrecognized tasks, without whom civil rights achievements would not be made,” Johnson said.

From the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Photo: Welcome sign at Vicco, Kentucky