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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

House Panel Could Hold Hearing on Fairness Law

The House Judiciary Committee has posted a bill that would create a statewide fairness law to its schedule, which means the anti-discrimination legislation may receive its first ever hearing in the General Assembly as early as next week.

Gay rights advocates have been lobbying state lawmakers for over a decade to bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Across the state, only the cities of Louisville, Lexington and Covington have passed laws giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals civil rights protections.

Similar ordinances have been considered in the cities of Richmond and Berea, but Fairness groups still believe pushing for a statewide law is necessary.

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, introduced the proposal. She calls the bill’s movement exciting because Kentucky has never had fairness issues posted to committee.

“This is really groundbreaking for Kentucky to be able to start educating legislators and the public on the need for this legislation,” she says. “All Kentucky citizens should be guaranteed justice and equality. Our gay citizens pay taxes, they’re part of this commonwealth and certainly they should enjoy the same justice that everybody else does.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fairness Leaders Back Anti-Bullying Bill

Gay rights leaders from across Kentucky are supporting a bill that would strengthen the state’s current anti-bullying laws.

The legislation was introduced by state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, and would create or improve protections against discrimination based upon students’ race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or learning disabilities.

State lawmakers passed a broad anti-bullying law in 2008, but supporters contend it overlooks certain students and have ratcheted up support after the suicide of 14-year-old Kentuckian Miranda Campbell, who reportedly shot herself after being teased for being bisexual.

Louisville Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman says state and school officials should pay closer attention to students who are being bullied, but stricter laws should apply to prevent young people from being perpetually harassed.

“The legislation is pretty clear that school boards and the department of education develops what sort of penalties are associated with bullying incidents. But when there is physical harassment…when it rises to that level it becomes a misdemeanor as it would anywhere,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

CNN Highlights Kentucky Lawmaker’s Opposition to Bullying Bill

Profiling a 14-year-old boy who committed suicide after years of alleged anti-gay taunts at school, CNN’s Anderson Cooper covered opposition to bullying legislation in Kentucky by highlighting state Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville, who believes homosexuality is a sin.

Earlier this year, state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, introduced a bill that would prohibit bullying because of a student’s race, religion or sexual orientation.

The measure passed by an overwhelming majority in a House committee, but it stalled when Harmon filed a number of amendments, including a provision that allows students to express their religious beliefs against homosexuality as long as their actions do not include physical harm or destruction of property.

“If someone, just in conversation, said, ‘You know, I think homosexuality is a sin,’ well, we don’t want that child to be bullied because they have a certain moral or religious belief,” Harmon told WHAS-11 in March. “And we don’t want them, certainly don’t want them to be labeled a bully just because they have that particular belief.”