Sunday, May 10, 2015

20 favor, five oppose 'fairness ordinance' at city's public forum; more than half of sign-ups weren't from Midway

By Jacqueline Nie
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Twenty people endorsed and five opposed the proposed “fairness ordinance” in a public forum at the Northside Elementary School gymnasium Thursday evening. The ordinance, awaiting first reading before the Midway City Council, would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

About 75 people attended the forum, according to Assistant City Clerk Diane Shepard. She managed the sign-in sheets, which had the names of 57 people, a few of whom listed post office boxes or other uncertain addresses. About 25 were from Midway, 15 from elsewhere in Woodford County and about 10 from elsewhere in Kentucky. Midway would be the eighth Kentucky city with such an ordinance, and the second smallest.

Isaac Batts of Midway shared his story of coming out as transgender, about a year ago. “Right now, I could be asked, or even made to leave any public place, because someone else isn’t comfortable with me being transgender,” he said. Batts said he felt uncomfortable to go into the bathroom at school, but the proposed ordinance states that schools would not have to comply with the ordinance.

Business owners, ministers and employees of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission shared their thoughts. Midway minister Pete Jones stands with the ordinance. “I wanted to stand as a faith leader in the Woodford County community and say that I support this,” he said. Jones was one of four ministers who spoke; all supported the ordinance.

Bernice Yates of Versailles said she believes the ordinance could infringe on her religious beliefs. “I’m opposed to this ordinance,” Yates said, adding, “I believe in treating people fair and with love and respect.”

One speaker suggested adding veterans to the classes of people the ordinance would protect from discrimination. “We may consider adding the veterans,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said afterward. “That was an interesting remark.”

Otherwise, Vandegrift said the ordinance is ready for its first reading. “I don’t see any reason to change the ordinance,” he said. “It’s come through committee and it’s probably ready to go to full council now.”

The forum went smoothly, with audience members respecting all opinions. “I thought everybody acted very civil and courteous, and I think these things go exactly as the citizens make them go, so I give them a ton of credit,” Vandegrift said. “I think they did a great job.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, 22 people favored the Fairness ordinance and 4 people opposed the ordinance. Of the 4 people that opposed the ordinance only 1 was a resident of Midway. There were way more than 75 people there, I would say 200 people.