Henderson city commission holds fairness ordinance debate

Updated: May. 6, 2019 at 10:40 PM CDT
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HENDERSON, KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Some call it unnecessary, and some are calling it a must.

City Commissioners voted 3-2 to draft a fairness ordinance earlier this Spring, prompting a decision to hold a work session on Monday.

Chris Hartman, the campaign director for Kentucky Fairness, and Enid Trucious-Haynes with the American Civil Liberties Union debated in favor of the ordinance.

Attorney Josh Hershberger and Commonwealth Policy Center’s Richard Nelson argued against the city passing such a policy.

“You all went through this 20 years ago," Nelson told the crowd. “I was actually here...I saw how divided the community was. There has been no discrimination complaints brought before this body."

Nelson and Hershberger mainly argued fairness ordinances are unfair to business owners and it hinders religious liberty.

“There have been no complaints brought before the Human Rights Commission," Nelson added. "There’s nothing that limits them to bring up the complaint, just because it’s not listed in the law. They can still bring up their complaint and it has not happened.”

One member in the audience shot his hand up during this point in the debate, saying he has been a victim of discrimination.

Hartman, the Kentucky Fairness director, then pointed out that discrimination is out there, but said it rarely gets reported.

Trucious-Haynes with ACLU stated 185 complaints came to light in the city of Louisville from 1999 to 2013.

“63 percent of the cases were closed, because they lacked probable cause,” Trucious-Haynes said.

Hartman and Trucious Haynes used the Louisville figures as fuel to point out it’s important for cities to have proper investigating procedures.

“Indeed, not all of them are actionable discrimination," Hartman said. "But, this is where a fairness ordinance protects both LGBT people and businesses. Because you can go around town and you can say a business discriminated against you, but unless there is an official body that will take the complaint and adjudicate the complaint, there is no way to disprove that discrimination occurred or didn’t occur.”

Commissioners tell us the city plans to schedule more public comment hearings in the future.

We’ll keep you updated.

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