RICHMOND — More than 100 people gathered outside Richmond City Hall on Wednesday to demand a local fairness ordinance after a lesbian couple was told to leave a park after sharing a kiss.
State and local supporters organized the rally after a gatekeeper allegedly told Cheri Chenault and Destiny Keith to leave Million Park in Richmond because "those type of people" weren't welcome there.
Jessica Miller-Poole, owner of 13 Wishes Photography, was photographing the couple for a maternity shoot when they shared a brief kiss, she said.
The couple was in attendance, smiling and chanting along with everyone else. Demonstrators unrolled a banner that read "standing on the side of love" and carried signs that allowed a space for their identity: "I'm a ____ and I support fairness." Identities ranged from "Christian" to "student" to "Richmond resident."
Lynn Thompson of Richmond passed out fliers with the words to chants, some of which were in Spanish.
Drivers honked from Main Street, and one stopped in the middle of the road to grab a flier from Thompson.
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, which works in Kentucky for legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, said Kentucky is one of 29 states in the U.S. that doesn't have such statewide protection.
Because of that, he said, it's up to the local communities to pass fairness ordinances. If there had been a fairness ordinance in Richmond, the couple could have filed a complaint with the local human rights commission, he said.
Currently, only Louisville, Lexington and Covington have such protections. Richmond could be next, Hartman said.
"We've never had this strong support in one fell swoop in Richmond," he said, adding that judging by the size of the crowd, he expects the city to be "bombarded" with calls for action.
"We're not going to stand here and chant all night," Hartman said. "You have to go home and chant on Facebook. You have to chant to your friends and co-workers. You have to chant to your city."
Michael Aldridge, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said a proposal for statewide protections had been brought up in the legislature for the past 10 years.
"There is public support for this idea," Aldridge said. "They're going to ask again."
Supporters said they plan to attend Richmond's City Commission meeting on Tuesday to ask for the fairness ordinance.