Lexington receives best equality score in Kentucky

Lexington received a perfect score from a civil rights organization that each year ranks cities based on how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities, Mayor Linda Gorton said. The score, 106, is the highest received by any city in Kentucky.

“In 2019, I announced my commitment to reach a perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index annual ratings, and here we are,” Gorton said. “We’ve worked hard to create an atmosphere welcoming all people. That hard work has resulted in the highest score received by a Kentucky city.”

Lexington was the first county in the state to pass an inclusive fairness ordinance in 1999. Since that time, the City has passed domestic partner benefits for government employees, strengthened discrimination protection language, celebrated the annual Lexington Pride Festival, passed a ban on youth conversion therapy, and more.

“This is a great tribute to the wonderful work of Mayor Linda Gorton and her administration,” said Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone. “Building on the record of former Mayors Pam Miller and Jim Gray, Mayor Gorton has gotten us to the top! The message is clear: Lexington is a fair and welcoming community for everyone.”

Scorsone has been leading the effort to promote LGBTQ fairness and equality for most of his career, including his service as the first and only openly gay member of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Debra Hensley, who has joined Scorsone in leading the fight for fairness and equality, said, “Over the past two decades we’ve had hard-working leaders, like our current mayor, administration and Council, focused on strengthening our community’s diversity. It is times like this that I am so proud of all that we have accomplished, and I look forward to future celebrations of equity and inclusion.”

Hensley, a businesswoman and former member of the Urban County Council, has led numerous boards and commissions in the community that have brought about important reforms.

Gorton created a work group in 2019 to review the Human Rights Campaign score criteria, and provide recommendations to improve the annual rating. Recent changes include passage of Lexington’s LGBTQ Youth Mental Health Protection Ordinance, utilizing all-gender signage for city-owned single occupancy facilities, discrimination protections in city contracts, and encouraging members of the LGBTQ community to apply for careers with local government.

Since the formation of the work group, the City’s score has increased from 89, received in 2018, to 106 this year. The Human Rights Campaign considers 100 to be a perfect score, but municipalities are able to receive flex points allowing for a highest potential score of 122.

Members of the Mayor’s Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index Work Group include:

  • Councilmember Susan Lamb, Fourth District
  • Councilmember Liz Sheehan, Fifth District
  • Craig Cammack, Mayor Gorton’s LGBTQ Liaison and Workgroup facilitator
  • Lt. Matthew Brotherton, LGBTQ Community Liaison, Lexington Division of Police
  • Tim Burcham, President, Burcham Solutions Group
  •  Arthur Lucas, LFUCG Diversity & Inclusion Officer
  • Wanda McCants, President, Pride Community Services Organization
  • Tuesday Meadows, Former Chair, Lexington Fairness
  • Sherita Miller, LFUCG Minority Business Liaison
  • Brandl Skirvin, President, JustFund Kentucky
  • Carmen Wampler-Collins, Executive Director, Pride Community Services Organization
  • JR Zerkowski, Diocese of Lexington LGBT Ministry

Lexington has been rated by the Human Rights Campaign since 2013. The city has progressively improved its score, moving up from an initial rating of 53.

The full Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index score can be found at www.hrc.org/mei.