Legislators failing Kentucky with law to allow discrimination


Illustration by Ben Wade.

Editorial Staff

Kentucky lawmakers are back at it again, this time with a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to LGBTQ* customers.

This new bill, Senate Bill 180, comes as a rebuttal because of a scuffle between  Christian printmaker and members of Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) in 2012.

The GLSO wanted to hire the printmaker to create shirts for a pride parade, but the printmaker felt he did not need to make a T-shirt that sent a message he didn’t agree with.

GLSO took the printmaker to court after submitting a complaint to the Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, but a trial court sided with the printmaker.

The printmaker argued he was refusing to print the shirts because of the message, not refuse the customers because they were gay. He was saying no to the t-shirt, not to the customers.

People use the same argument for places like bakeries and bridal shops that would have to provide services for a same-sex marriage. Because of their religion, some shop owners would prefer to leave their businesses out of events that they are morally against.

But refusing to serve someone because of their beliefs or way of life is discriminatory.

“I’ve been to a few talks at St. Augustine’s … I remember that there was one specific thing those women said, one woman said, ‘Don’t use your religion as a way to defend your bigotry.’ It was such a great line.” said Ilissa Saenz, spokesperson for UK’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

“The only thing Senate bill 180 seeks to do is to take away the Civil Rights protection that have been granted in the … cities that have passed local fairness laws.” said Chris Hartman, Director of Kentucky Fairness.

According to the Fairness Campaign, there are eight cities in Kentucky that have passed a fairness ordinance to protect against sexual orientation discrimination. A bill to “protect” businesses would unravel the progress organizations like the Fairness Campaign are pushing for.

Kentucky’s lawmakers are allowing religion to mix with the law, and are using it as an excuse to allow for discrimination against their own citizens.

The only way to halt these trials against the LGBTQ* community is to vote, according to both Hartman and Dawns.

With the right people in office, bills like Senate Bill 180 will not pass. Kentucky needs strong, progressive and fair congressmen and congresswomen.

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