Covington to Call on Other NKY Cities to Adopt Human Rights Ordinances
NKY Pride festival and parade return to Covington this weekend.
The City of Covington announced that it will have staff participants in the third annual parade.
The event is celebrating its tenth year.
The parade and festival are set for Sunday.
On Thursday, the NKY Pride Community Awards Celebration will be held for the first time. City officials will participate in that event, too.
"This will be a great opportunity for the city to discuss how our core values - inclusivity and diversity - help us attract businesses, talent, and visitors," said Covington Economic Development Director Tom West. "It will also be an opportunity for Covington as a leader in this region to challenge other cities to join us in taking a stand for all people."
Covington was one of the first cities in Kentucky to codify its commitment to protecting all people from discrimination. Back in 2003, the Covington city commission passed a human rights ordinance that added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes, prohibiting discrimination within the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, resort and amusement.
Maysville joined Covington last year to become the tenth city to adopt those protections. But no other city in Northern Kentucky explicitly prohibits discrimination of the LGBTQ community.
"It's time to change that fact," West said, "and I plan to say that Thursday."
Mayor Joe Meyer said people should interpret the city's participation in pride events as a strong and formal declaration of support for the LGBTQ community, for inclusivity, and for equal protection - and as an invite.
"Here in Covington we don't care how old you are, what you look like, who you love, or how you identify: We invite you to live in our city, work in our businesses, eat at our restaurants, and be part of our community," Meyer said.
In a 2015 report based on 2010 Census numbers, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law ranked Covington first in Kentucky and 206th in the country in same-sex couples per 1,000 households. Meyer said the number of such couples in Covington since then has increased substantially.
The Williams Institute also estimated the number of LGBT workers in Kentucky at 80,000, some ten years ago.
"As a city, if you're not willing to declare that you are not going to tolerate a hostile environment, then you might as well put up a sign that says, Only Some People and Some Talent Welcome," Meyer said.
Besides a person's sexual orientation and gender identity, Covington's human rights ordinance also prohibits discrimination based on a person's disability, age, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, familial status, marital and/or parental status, and place of birth.
These protections are necessary, the ordinance states, "to protect an individual's personal dignity and insure freedom from humiliation; to make available to the city all full productive capacities; to secure the city against strife and unrest which would menace its democratic institutions; and to preserve the public safety, health, and general welfare."
About NKY Pride activities
The parade begins Sunday at 1 p.m. at Covington Landing.
The route is slightly new this year: It will proceed south on Madison Avenue, west onto Seventh Street (where a judges' table will be set up in front of Braxton Brewing Co.), right on Russell Street, left on Sixth Street, left on Main Street, right on Seventh Street, right on Bakewell Street, left on Sixth Street to Goebel Park.
Goebel Park will be the site of NKY Pridefest, which will include more than 50 vendors, live music, beverages, and a Family and Kidzone. A Pride After-Party will follow at Hotel Covington.
Bonnie Meyer, president of Northern Kentucky Fairness, which organizes the region's Pride activities, estimated that 1,500 people walked in last year's parade, with many thousands more watching from porches, storefronts, and the sidewalk.
"We're often asked why we have our own pride festival instead of joining Cincinnati's celebration, but Northern Kentucky is a whole different community with our own policies, issues, pressing concerns, and elected leadership," she said. "It's important to recognize that difference as we pursue equity, education, and visibility for the LGBTQ community on this side of the river."
Bonnie Meyer praised the City of Covington for its "constant reaffirmation of support" for those goals. "That support is awesome - not many Cities recognize the importance of inclusion and are willing to step up and declare it," she said.
Photo: 2018 NKY Pride parade on Madison Avenue in Covington (RCN file)