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Kentucky Town of 334 Passes Protections for Gays & Lesbians

In 2003, the City of Covington became the third municipality in Kentucky to pass protections for its gay and lesbian residents, behind Louisville and Lexington which had passed similar measures in 1999. For a time Henderson, Kentucky was among the cities with such protections but repealed its fairness ordinance not long after its passage.

Now, Kentucky once again has four cities with such protections after the small town of Vicco, population 334, in Perry County which is in far eastern Kentucky. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the measure, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based upon a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, received support from three of the city's four-member commission and Mayor Johnny Cummings. 

Vicco is in the middle of Appalachian coal country, stereotypically an unlikely place to pass an ordinance protecting gays. The town is so attached to coal that it was named for the Virginia Iron Coal and Coke Company, a large land business still operating in the region, according to the ACLU. 

"Vicco is a community that believes all folks should be treated fairly," Vicco City Attorney Eric Ashley said in a news release from the ACLU. "We believe everyone deserves the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Fairness is a Kentucky value, a Vicco value, and one of our most American values."

Supporter of measures that protect gays and lesbians will rally at the Kentucky State Capitol on February 20. In November, the Kentucky Fairness Alliance launched campaigns in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, and Shelbyville. Those new campaigns join ones already underway in Berea and Richmond.

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