Commissioners vote to leave controversial ordinance 'as is' for - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Change of plans for vote on controversial ordinance

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A change of plans Tuesday night for Vanderburgh County officials prepared to redefine the word "family" in exchange for federal funds.

Vanderburgh County Commissioners came to their meeting Tuesday, ready to amend the Fair Housing Ordinance to include same-sex couples. Doing that, they thought, would qualify the county for a $500,000 grant to be used for a sewer project.  

But, just before their meeting, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development informed Vanderburgh County officials they could still get the money even without amending the ordinance.

So, all three commissioners agreed not to amend the ordinance, even though at their last meeting, they voted in favor of it on first reading when they thought it had to be approved in order to get the money.
Redefining the word family in the Fair Housing Ordinance would have given same-sex couples protection from housing discrimination. Some say that's just the fair and moral thing to do. Others wonder if the money is the only reason commissioners considered amending the ordinance in the first place. 

"It's the best signal that we can send as a community to try and attract talent and try and retain talent because people don't want to stay in an area where some folks are worthy of respect and others are not," said Dr. Robert Dion with the Human Relations Commission. 

"Well, there is money behind it and of course, you know, if you're going to be a part of the United States you have to play with the federal and state government. It also is what it is. It's fair housing. We want everyone to be treated the same in Vanderburgh County and this does relate to Vanderburgh County," said County Commissioner Marsha Abell.

When asked why not just go ahead and pass it, Abell said, " Well, because if we pass something tonight we might have to amend it."

Abell says the county wants its ordinance to reflect the state's ordinance.  With the new Pence administration in place, commissioners want to see what, if any, changes will be made at the state level before the ordinance is looked at again on the local level.  

We'll keep you updated.

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