The Frankfort City Commission Thursday morning finally passed an ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.
At a specially called meeting, Mayor Bill May and commissioners Katie Hedden and Tommy Haynes voted in favor. Commissioner Robert Roach and Lynn Bowers dissented.
The move makes Frankfort the fifth Kentucky city — alongside Louisville, Lexington, Covington and Vicco — with an ordinance protecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
The vote is the culmination of months of contentious debate both within the commission and the community. Because of amendments, the ordinance had three “first” readings before it received final approval Thursday.
The issue was notable for its split of progressive and conservative religious leaders, particularly Baptist ministers, who often spoke at meetings.
A movement of locals, with aid from other organizations, mounted a strong social and traditional media campaign called Frankfort Fairness to pass the law.
Ordinance supporters wearing blue “Another Kentuckian for Fairness” T-shirts became staples at commission meetings. Opponents also regularly appeared, many arguing the ordinance would further reverse discrimination against Christians who disagree with homosexuality.
In June, the issue brought about 175 people in front of the commission, pushing the public comment section of the meeting to more than two hours.
Federal and state law do not recognize sexual orientation and gender identity among the traditional protected classes, such as race and age, but the new local law will effectively add them to the list.
The ordinance, however, does provide exemptions. For example, it would allow employers with fewer than eight employees to continue discriminating in whom they hire and people leasing a small number of rooms out of their houses to continue discriminating in whom they let into their homes.
For more on this decision, see Friday’s print edition or visit www.state-journal.com to read The State Journal online.