WHAT WE THINK: Lets give fairness a fair shake

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If there is one thing we believe in, it’s the Golden Rule.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Such a simple decree, but if everyone followed it could you imagine what a wonderful world we would live in?

That’s why we just can’t understand the Shelbyville City Council’s refusal to act on or even publicly discuss the request for a Fairness Ordinance from the Shelby County chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

The Shelby chapter showed up to Thursday’s city council meeting with brightly colored tape across their mouths, a display that was intended to draw a parallel to the silence the council has used to approach their proposal.

We just can’t understand why someone would not want to back fairness.

The group is asking for anti-discrimination legislation that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on someone’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Can you imagine being denied a rental home because someone didn’t like your boyfriend or girlfriend? Or how would you feel about being fired from your job because your boss didn’t care for your lifestyle, which in no way affected your job performance?

We’re not saying you have to agree with the way others choose to live their lives. We’re not saying you have to condone something that may go against your religious beliefs.

Much like the First Amendment, you don’t have to agree with what everyone else is saying you just have to respect his or her right to say it.

All this ordinance would mean is that you would choose to treat someone fairly and not based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, just like you wouldn’t treat someone differently based on their gender, choice of religion or the color of their skin.

While Shelbyville has sat idle – choosing to do nothing – a few other cities have adopted fairness ordinances.

Louisville and Lexington were first, and within the last couple of years towns like Frankfort, Covington, Morehead and little Vicco have been added to the list.

The Pleasureville and Campbellsburg city commissions both had first readings, but neither passed on a second reading – Pleasureville because it could not get a second.

While we can’t really understand the downside to the ordinance, we certainly can’t fathom why it would not be discussed.

We do commend two of our city council members who have made comments on the topic.

Bob Andriot, a Republican, told the group that while he disagreed with their views, he appreciated their “willingness to come here and share your values with us.”

At a separate meeting discussing federal Fair Housing Law, Mike Zoeller, a Democrat, questioned whether or not gay citizens should be added to the Civil Rights Era law that states that the city will ensure equal opportunity in housing for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

At that time, Mr. Zoeller asked: “My question is, ‘Did we leave anyone out with this? What about gay people? Could a gay couple be turned down because of this? It notes religion, ethnicity, race and other things, but should we include that? I’m just wondering, because this can be an issue now.”

City Attorney Stephen Gregory noted that sexuality isn’t a federally protected class at this time.

But Mr. Zoeller’s thoughts were progressive, much like those cities that have already adopted fairness ordinances.

The question now is where do the rest of our council members stand on this issue? We still have two more Democrats and two more Republicans that we have yet to hear from. Should we not have a public discussion on this topic so voters know where their representatives stand?

Whether you agree or disagree with a person’s lifestyle doesn’t matter. How you chose to live your life is not for officials to decide. This subject is not going away and pretending to ignore it is not the right way to address the issue.

A few weeks ago, during discussions on the curbside trash and recycling franchise ordinance, Mr. Zoeller again hit home.

He wanted recycling included in the package for city residents because he wanted to stress its importance, and he wanted others to look at Shelbyville “as a progressive city.”

But here is where we disagree.

If we want to be considered “progressive” this is Shelbyville’s chance. Extending an olive branch to those that might be considered different is progressive. Ensuring fairness to all, no matter race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity is progressive.

Let’s be a welcoming and progressive city.

Let’s treat all others how we would like to be treated – fairly.