Women's group says Louisville airport decision 'censors' truth

Published: Aug. 13, 2014 at 4:02 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2014 at 4:54 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A group has bought billboard space for a women's issues advertisement near from Louisville International Airport after airport officials rejected a request to put the ad in the passenger terminal.

UltraViolet, a nonprofit organization that promotes women's rights, will highlight the gender pay gap on a billboard along Interstate 264 near Phillips Lane that will go up by Monday.

Airport officials said guidelines on advertising within the terminal restrict those with political messages, including the pay gap and other issues covered in the ad, such as unpaid maternity leave.

"If the airport authorities are uncomfortable with that, then they should be seeking to change that reality, not censor the truth," said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet.

The group has contacted nine airports about running ads within their terminals, but Chaudhary said she wasn't sure whether any of them had accepted.

In Louisville, airport guidelines allow commercial messages but not ones that promote a political or religious view, said Trish Burke, an airport spokeswoman.

"It is not uncommon for airports to have policies such as this to preserve a politically neutral and welcoming environment for airport guests," Burke said in an email.

Airports in Charlotte, N.C. and New Orleans have rejected the group's requests, according to news reports. An airport spokeswoman in Columbus, Ohio, said officials there had also denied the ad.

The ad cites studies that claim Kentucky women make 76 cents to every dollar men earn, which puts Kentucky in the bottom third of U.S. states.

UltraViolet also takes issue that Kentucky law doesn't guarantee paid maternity leave. Only three states do make such a guarantee.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes often references the same women's issues on the campaign trail, but Chaudhary said her group wasn't trying to influence the U.S. Senate race.

UltraViolet will spend "six figures" on the billboards across seven states, while also promoting the ads online, Chaudhary said.

"We're trying to get this message out, and if we can't do it at the airport, we'll find other ways to do it," she said. "In Kentucky, as in a lot of other states, there's a lot of work to do."

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