Kentucky's fourth largest city began its journey Tuesday night toward joining seven others that don't discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or identity.
The Owensboro Human Rights Commission presented a proposed ordinance, with director Sylvia Coleman recommending its consideration and approval. In fact, all five members of the City Commission expressed support Tuesday night for the fairness ordinance, prompting Mayor Ron Payne to instruct the city's legal staff to bring it to the commission for future consideration.
The Fairness Campaign's Dora James says Owensboro officials have been working toward the ordinance since December. She says it all started with a simple chat between a campaign member and a city commissioner.
If Owensboro approves the ordinance after a first reading on the 19th and a second reading next month, it would become the eighth Kentucky community with such a law.
Danville’s city manager says unresolved legal questions forced the city’s proposed “fairness ordinance” to be tabled Monday night. Ron Scott says the measure, which would make it illegal for businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, has sparked some intense debate. The ordinance would pertain to employment, public accommodations and housing.
“The City Commission has heard and the city staff has heard from a variety of folks on both sides of the issue, those in favor of and those against,” said Scott “Those include church groups as well as businesses, in terms of some expressing opposition to and some expressing support for.”
Scott says a poll conducted by Centre College revealed support for a fairness ordinance among Danville residents stood in the “upper 70 percent” range. Six other Kentucky cities including Louisville have implemented similar measures.
A workshop has been scheduled for April 28th so the city attorney can review the outstanding legal questions revolving around how the ordinance would comply with the state’s Civil Rights laws.
A statewide gay rights organization says the Shelbyville City Council is being asked to consider an anti-discrimination ordinance. The Fairness Coalition says some residents of the town of around 15,000 will ask the council Thursday night to consider the measure.