- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A former police officer who claims he lost his job because of his sexual orientation joined gay-rights advocates Wednesday in urging Kentucky lawmakers to protect homosexuals and bisexuals from discrimination in the workplace, in public places and housing.

Gay-rights supporters said the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the anti-discrimination bill represented a historic step forward. For more than a decade, similar anti-discrimination measures died without receiving hearings in the General Assembly.

The committee did not vote on the measure Wednesday, and panel members didn’t ask questions after presentations by a series of bill supporters.

“I’m a proud Christian, a Republican, a gun owner and I’m gay,” said Kile Nave, a former police officer in a small urban community in Jefferson County. “And I deserve to be protected from discrimination like everyone else.”

Nave said he lost his job in 2012, more than two decades into his police career. After he filed a complaint, the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission found probable cause that he was fired because of his sexual orientation, he said.

Louisville is among a half-dozen Kentucky cities with ordinances banning discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation. The legislation reviewed Wednesday would ban anti-gay discrimination in those same settings across Kentucky.

“I’m grateful that Louisville has a fairness ordinance and I wish all Kentucky did, so everyone in the commonwealth could be protected from this type of discrimination,” Nave said.

The committee hearing came on the same day that thousands of Kentuckians converged on the state Capitol to mark the 50th anniversary of a civil-rights march in Frankfort.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, a gay-advocacy group, called the committee hearing an “historic civil-rights moment.”

“People have waited their whole lives for this debate to happen,” he said.

He acknowledged the bill has an uphill struggle, saying there’s a “disconnect” between public opinion and many lawmakers on gay-rights issues.

“But this shows progress,” Hartman said after the hearing. “I think that it shows the bill has got some legs now, it’s stretching out. We should see some movement if not this year, next year and beyond.”

The measure would exempt businesses with fewer than eight employees. It also wouldn’t apply to people renting rooms in their homes.

The House committee’s review of the gay-rights measure comes soon after a federal judge’s decision that granted legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states and countries. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal the ruling after state Attorney General Jack Conway announced he would not pursue the case further.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn issued a Feb. 12 opinion that Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages violated the Constitution’s equal-protection clause in the 14th Amendment because it treated “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”


The legislation is House Bill 171.

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