This week on In Conversation with Rick Howlett, we talked about the 20-year anniversary of Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance. The law made it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Our guests were:
- Lisa Gunterman — Fairness Ordinance Activist, Director of the LGBT Center at the University of Louisville
- Chris Hartman — Director of the Fairness Campaign
- Alicia Pedreira — Fairness Ordinance Activist
- Dawn Wilson — Transgender Civil Rights Activist, Education Chair of the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission
Lisa Gunterman said things were rough for the LGBTQ community before the ordinance. There was little help for people being discriminated against. Today, people can report incidents of discrimination, file a hate crime report, or even file a lawsuit. That’s what activist Alicia Pedreira did, almost 20 years ago.
Pedreira was fired from her job after a photograph of her and her girlfriend was displayed at the Kentucky State Fair.
“I had heard so many stories of people who had been fired, and still hear them,” Pedreira said. “I knew that I could do it [fight the firing], and that I would do it and I wouldn’t back down. And that even if I lost, it was worth the fight.” She sued for discrimination, and the case dragged on–even into the current administration.
Though Louisville passed the Fairness Ordinance 20 years ago, Kentucky does not have a statewide law protecting LGBTQ people. Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman said the state still has a lot to do for the LGBTQ community.
Dawn Wilson said many people still face discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but do not know about what Louisville’s fairness ordinance can do for them.
“[People] are afraid that if they do say something, they’ll be barred from a dress shop, or they’ll be barred from a restaurant, and even at a hospital,” Wilson said.
She encouraged anyone dealing with such discrimination to contact the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission.
Next Friday on In Conversation we’ll talk about the state of transportation in Louisville.