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Fairness group hopes to be heard

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Will attend Thursday’s meeting again requesting that a Fairness Ordinance be discussed

By Ashley Sutter

Thursday, members of the Shelbyville City Council will once again hear from members of the Shelby County chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a democratic fairness group, as well as members of the Fairness Campaign, an organization dedicated to fair treatment of the gay and lesbian community.

The two groups are planning to attend the council’s meeting at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the Fairness Ordinance the groups have been proposed several times.

“For more than a year and a half…we’ve been working closely with KFTC which is bringing attention to…an anti-discrimination and fairness ordinance which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from being denied [equality],” Chris Hartman, the director of the Fairness Campaign said.

“We would like to get some answers from the council members and the mayor and where they stand on the issue,” said Leslie McBride of the Shelby County chapter of the KFTC.

Hartman said the Fairness Campaign and KFTC have made several attempts to contact and discuss a fairness ordinance with the council, but have repeatedly been denied that opportunity.

“For the past year-and-a-half the council has received repeated contacts,” he said. “They can’t claim they didn’t have any contact on the issue. The city council [has] ignored repeated calls to even discuss the anti-discrimination ordinance. Shelbyville residents feel they deserve at least a conversation on the issue.”

However, Hartman said the KFTC and the Fairness Campaign have presented their stand at least six city council meetings since November 2012, sharing their platform in various ways.

“Early on [we] just [brought] a copy of the proposed ordinance and [asked] them directly to look at the ordinance,” he said.

Hartman explained that the proposed ordinance would simply provide protection against the discrimination of the LGBT when seeking employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“We just want a general fairness ordinance; people of color, of all races, all nationalities to make sure they are treated equal,” McBride said. “It won’t cost the city anything [to enforce it].”

McBride said the ordinance is mostly a preventive measure, but they have received some complaints of mistreatment and of the LGBT community, as well as other discrimination within the city.

McBride explained that several neighboring cities have already adopted similar ordinances and the groups feel it’s Shelbyville’s turn.

“I don’t want Shelbyville to lag behind,” she said.

McBride and Hartman both feel that although the council members have heard the organizations’ comments, they do not feel they are actually listening.

In April, several members of the Shelbyville chapter of the Fairness Campaign held a silent protest during a city council meeting.

“About a dozen supporters showed up with duct tape on their mouths to show that they have been silenced,” he said.

However, members of the Fairness Campaign and the KFTC are planning to speak up Thursday.

“Local supporters are once again attending the meeting,” Hartman said. “Several folks, I think, are going to come out and make their voices heard.”

Hartman said he hopes city council members will listen this time.

“It’s very discouraging when elected officials won’t even talk about something that’s very important to you,” he said. “It’s the city’s responsibility to protect every one of its citizens and it’s time they take action.”

 

  • Also at the meeting, the board will:
  • Hear the 2014 ad valorem property tax rate for 2014
  • Hear a municipal order declaring items for surplus