More than a hundred Georgetown residents gathered Saturday in hopes of making their city the ninth place in Kentucky to have a fairness ordinance protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.
Georgetown Fairness, a group of community leaders, worked with the Fairness Coalition and the Scott County chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to fill Royal Spring Park with booths, live music and rainbow flags for the city’s first Pride Festival.
“We’re a bunch of people who love Georgetown, either who live here or work here, and we want to see it become the ninth place in Kentucky that has a local law against (discrimination) while we’re waiting for federal or state law,” said John Henkel, one of the event’s organizers. “Georgetown is one of the all but eight places in Kentucky where it’s still legal to fire somebody, evict somebody or turn them away from your business just for being gay or trans.”
Lexington, Louisville, Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Morehead, Vicco in Perry County and, most recently, Midway have all approved fairness ordinances.
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“Most of the people you talk to sort of assume that because it’s legal now for gay people to get married that it’s also illegal to discriminate against them in basic ways like employment, but things kind of happened in the opposite order from what folks expected,” Henkel said.
In addition to raising awareness about the push for a fairness ordinance, the festival Saturday brought games, free food and live music to the park off South Water Street.
“The reason for having a Pride Festival, in the service of trying to pass a fairness ordinance, is building community and helping make Georgetown an easier place to grow up gay, or to live or work gay,” Henkel said. “I think this was a good way to bring together people who care about this issue and focus a lot of positive energy in one place.”
Among those in attendance was Nancy Jo Kemper, the Democrat running for Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District seat.
“I’m here because I believe in equal justice under the law for every single American,” Kemper sad. “The Supreme Court has ruled, and it is the law, and I would like to see every community become an open community that has fairness regulations that prohibit discrimination against any of their citizens on any basis.”
Steven Wiglesworth and Harold Dean Jessie, the first gay couple to be married in Georgetown, said they were thrilled to be at their town’s first Pride Festival.
“It’s almost surreal. It’s incredible,” Jessie said. “The reason this is so important, there are other people who need to feel like they can live openly, be who they are, and that’s the most important thing. What I want people to take away from here, is that here in Georgetown, Kentucky, you can live and be who you are.”
The couple lives in downtown Georgetown and owns a business, Unique Gifts & More, on Main Street.
“The community here has embraced us,” Jessie said. “Overall the people in Georgetown are beautiful, they’re accepting, and … we’re all in this together, we all participate. We want everybody to feel like they’re a part of Georgetown.”