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'It was like pushing a boulder uphill': Chris Hartman speaks on making Kentucky more LGBTQ-friendly

As LGBTQ rights are under attack in Kentucky, Chris Hartman says he is busier than ever before.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Fairness Campaign is Kentucky’s LGBTQ advocacy organization founded by 10 Louisvillians. Chris Hartman joined the organization 15 years ago as its first Executive Director. 

In the past several years, he has helped quadruple the number of Kentucky cities with anti-discrimination LGBTQ Fairness Ordinances.

Hartman says he anticipated more pushback when it came to passing a Fairness Ordinance in more rural parts of Kentucky, however, he found that smaller cities have to stepped up.

“It was not easy. It was like pushing a boulder uphill, but we got somewhere,” Hartman said. "It used to be that LGBTQ rights were seen as a big city issue, but when we passed a Fairness Ordinance in a small coal town in Appalachia, other cities started saying, 'if they can do it, we can do it'."

After those successes, Hartman considered leaving the campaign to focus on other opportunities. He quickly noticed, however, those successes were coming under attack.

“And then suddenly, the onslaught of attacks was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “And now, this year, we’re looking at more anti-LGBTQ bills being filed in Kentucky than ever, and similar pieces of legislation filed in 400 legislatures across the nation.”

That means, for Hartman, it’s back to work, lobbying daily in Frankfort, leading rallies and community meetings in the evenings and on weekends, and doing the crucial daily work of the organization to serve the community.

“If I had a different job, it might be hard to get up and go do this work every day, but we have to protect our kids. The weight of the responsibility of working to protect the few rights that our queer kids have, and to show them that they are loved, that there are people out here fighting for them. And it’s not just kids at our whole community,” he said.

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