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Gay Rights Bill Sees Record Number of Cosponsors in Frankfort, Including Covington's Simpson

A record sixteen co-sponsors have signed on to Kentucky's House Bill 171, known as the Statewide Fairness Bill, the Fairness Campaign announced Thursday.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) and was filed Wednesday.

Six new representatives signed on. Covington Democrat Arnold Simpson is one of the co-sponsors. He is the only legislator from Northern Kentucky to co-sponsor.

The Fairness Campaign says the increased number of co-sponsors illustrates the rapid growth of support across the commonwealth for anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodation including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

Last month, Morehead's passage of a city-level version of the law rounded out a year in which Kentucky doubled the number of municipalities with Fairness ordinances, adding Frankfort and the Appalachian town of Vicco to Covington, Lexington, and Louisville, which passed LGBT protections more than a decade ago.

Grassroots movements to pass local Fairness laws are afoot in nearly a dozen other cities in the commonwealth, including Bowling Green, Danville, Elizabethtown, Owensboro, Shelbyville, and Berea, where the city council has appointed a task force to draft a local Fairness law.

"This type of unprecedented support at the statewide level is clear and compelling evidence that Kentucky is moving in the right direction--towards LGBT Fairness," said Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman in a news release. "Coupled with the tremendous progress across the whole commonwealth, these new co-sponsors should compel House Leadership and the Judiciary Committee to finally hold a hearing on the legislation, which they have avoided the past fifteen years."

More than 25% of Kentucky's population now lives in a city with LGBT Fairness protections and 83% of all registered Kentucky voters support a statewide Fairness law, according to a recent survey by The Schapiro Group.

A statewide Fairness rally will be held in the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday, February 19 at 1:30 p.m., 700 Capital Avenue, 40601.

* Indicates New Sponsorship
Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville)
Rep. Tom Burch (D-Louisville)
* Rep. Denver Butler (D-Louisville)
* Rep. Jesse Crenshaw (D-Lexington)
* Rep. Jeffrey Donahue (D-Louisville)
Rep. Kelly Flood (D-Lexington)
* Rep. Derrick Graham (D-Frankfort)
Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville)
Rep. Reginald Meeks (D-Louisville)
Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville)
Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo (D-Louisville)
Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington)
* Rep. Rita Smart (D-Richmond)
* Rep. David Watkins (D-Henderson)
Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville)
Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington)

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