Henderson CountyKentucky

Proposed Fairness Ordinance to Be Discussed; City Officials Weigh In

Henderson City commissioners will be holding a town hall meeting to hear from both sides of a proposal meant to protect certain citizens.

The proposed Fairness Ordinance is intended to prevent discrimination in Henderson against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The goal is to foster equality in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The discussion to revive the ordinance comes with opposing viewpoints that the community will be able to share.

“Make a good decision based on what is in the best long-term interest of this community,” says Mayor Steve Austin, Henderson.

It’s a policy that is garnering discussion.

Joan Hoffman, former Henderson Mayor, oversaw the original Fairness Ordinance in 1999.

“We knew that the city needed a way to say to our residents that everyone has the right to live here, to work, to have a place to live, and to have public accommodations like everyone else,” says Joan Hoffman, former Henderson Mayor.

The legislation was removed shortly after, but twenty years later the discussion continues and not everyone on today’s commission is in favor of the push.

“My opinion is any group is going to have an equal opportunity in employment because employment right now is out there and it’s available,” says Austin.

“Why would we want something that is not necessary and hasn’t been a problem because as I see it’s very divisive and the times we’re living in now, we need unity in our county and within our city,” says Patti Bugg, Henderson City Commissioner.

Not everyone agrees.

“We can hear the same stories today that we heard then. The opposition or the people who feel that it’s not necessary keep saying to us ‘we don’t want this because it divides our community,’ but our community is divided,” says Hoffman.

Monday’s meeting will allow groups such as the ACLU and Commonwealth Policy Center to debate along with public comments.

But one thing everyone can agree on–the discussion will remain respectful.

“We’re talking about fair to everyone and that’s my whole goal that tomorrow night will be informative and hopefully people will see things maybe from a different angle then they did because no one should ever be discriminated against for any reason at all,” says Bugg.

“I’m hoping as they speak to their side and we speak to our side of the issue that we can find some way to agree that we treat folks the way they need to be treated,” says Hoffman.

The Town Hall Session will take place tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m. at the Henderson Municipal Service Center.

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