( Frankfort, KY ) Though both Senate Democrats and Republicans spoke against Kentucky's "License to Discriminate," Senate Bill 180, the measure passed the full chamber with a 22-16 vote. Five Senate Republicans joined all 11 Senate Democrats in opposing the bill, which seeks to subvert LGBT discrimination protections in eight Kentucky cities. Republican Senators voting in opposition include Senator Carroll Gibson, Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Senator Christian McDaniel, Senator Julie Raque Adams, and Senator Wil Schroder.
The bill will now move to the Kentucky House.
"This is an incredibly disappointing day in the Kentucky Senate," shared Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. "Despite bi-partisan opposition to this 'License to Discriminate,' our Senate has sent the message that Kentucky may not be open for business for everyone. We hope Kentucky House leaders will show greater wisdom and give this piece of legislation as much consideration as it deserves—none."
States that have passed similar legislation targeting LGBT people have experienced serious economic harm. A recent report from Visit Indy revealed a $60 million loss in tourism and convention dollars from Indiana's similar law.
Nearly 200 local employers in the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalitionincluding Brown-Forman Corporation, Humana, Fifth Third Bank, and moreare publicly backing statewide LGBT discrimination protections, which SB180 seeks to subvert.
SB180 also opens the door to challenge religious and racial discrimination protections, which have been in place in Kentucky since the 1960s. Some individuals who could legally face discrimination under SB180 include:
Individuals who are divorced or remarried
Interfaith or interracial couples
Below are some of the growing number of statements in opposition to SB180 from several organizations and elected officials, including Kentucky mayors, faith leaders, corporate leaders, and the convention and tourism industry:
"Senate Bill 180 is not good for the hospitality industry in Louisville or the entire Commonwealth. Its passage would send a negative message to visitors and major conventions and cause a decrease in tourism business." Karen Williams, President & CEO, Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau
"Our Human Rights Ordinance has been a real positive for Covington and has led to our city
being more inclusive and welcoming, both positive attributes. Allowing discrimination by a business or a government office because they do not endorse a person's way of life or agree with a person's beliefs is harmful. It's harmful to the individual being discriminated against and
harmful to the larger community as a whole." Covington Mayor Sherry Carran
"Our community has taken a stand to extend protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations for all our residents. We believe it's the right thing to do and it's good for business. We believe our community should be open to business for everyone. Senate Bill 180 harms the hard work and good will of Kentucky communities like ours." Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift
"Brown-Forman urges the Kentucky State Senate to reject discrimination in all forms and defeat SB180. As a 146-year old company founded in Kentucky and doing business in more than 165 countries around the world, we compete against global giants several times our size. We are successful because we attract the highest quality employees from around the world, and the passage of SB180 would significantly hurt our ability to attract and retain employees, who want to work where fairness is the law and discrimination is prohibited. Brown-Forman, like every Fortune 1000 Company in Kentucky and 94% of all Fortune 1000 Companies in the U.S., is proud of our policy of non-discrimination against our LGBT employees, and we are especially proud that we are one of the few companies in our region to achieve a perfect 100 rating from the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index every year since 2010. If the Kentucky Senate wants to be pro-business, it will reject SB180 and the inherent discrimination that is behind it." Phil Lynch, Vice President, Director of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Brown-Forman Corporation
"All hardworking people, including those who are gay or transgender, should be treated fairly and equally under the law. In addition, all hardworking Kentuckians who are working to build great businesses must be able to recruit and retain creative, talented people—people who have many choices about where they live and work. Laws that discriminate against LGBT people make it more likely that talented people will choose to live elsewhere—and this hurts Kentucky business." David A. Jones, Jr., Chairman, Chrysalis Ventures, LLC
"As a minister, I have an interest in protecting religious freedom. However, I can't support any legislation that would use religious freedom as a pretext for harming the most vulnerable among us. In Christianity, freedom is never intended to be a freedom from taking responsibility for hurting otherswhich includes our LGBT sisters and brothersbut a freedom to serve and advocate for those who are most threatened by the people in power." Rev. Dr. Derek Penwell, Senior Minister Douglass Blvd Christian Church, Co-Chair Kentucky Faith Leaders for Fairness
The Fairness Coalition consists of members and allies of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Fairness Campaign, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and Lexington Fairness working together to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Kentuckians.