Kentucky governor Paul Patton signed an order Thursday prohibiting discrimination against state government employees or job applicants on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The order applies to the governor's executive cabinet agencies, which together employ more than 30,000 people. Patton leaves office in December, and the next governor could rescind the order. But Patton believes the order "was the right thing to do" and hopes his successor will keep it in effect, his general counsel, Denis Fleming, said in an interview.
The executive order "makes it a policy of the commonwealth not to discriminate" on any of several bases, including race, religion, sex, age, or disability. Fleming said sexual orientation and gender identity are the "key addition" to the policy, having been suggested to Patton by a Democratic legislator, state senator Ernesto Scorsone of Lexington. Fleming also said the policy was in the vein of "fairness ordinances" enacted in Louisville, Lexington, and Covington. About a dozen other states have
instituted similar policies, Fleming said. The order does not apply to public institutions or agencies not under the governor's direct control, examples being school districts, colleges, and universities.