Fairness ordinance supporters talk next steps after vote ends in tie

Local News

OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Supporters of a nondiscrimination ordinance, also known as the ‘Fairness Ordinance’, in Daviess County are talking about their next steps to get it approved.

The ordinance that was debated for months failed to pass last night when the vote ended in a tie. Could the ordinance be re-introduced in the near future?

After months of debates in packed rooms in, and out of the Daviess County Courthouse, the vote happened in a nearly empty fiscal court room due to social distancing guidelines.

“Typically this would have ended in a courtroom full of people, probably a group surrounding the courthouse, probably voicing their opinions,” said Daviess Co. Judge Executive Al Mattingly.

Many supporters and opponents watched the vote from home.

“I hate that. I hate if for the LGBT community. I hate if for the church community,” Mattingly said, regarding the vote happening in a nearly empty room.

“We were really hoping that it would pass,” said Deanna Smith of the Owensboro Fairness Campaign.

Judge Mattingly and Commissioner Mike Koger voted for it, while Commissioners George Wathen and Charlie Castlen voted against it. Smith says while it didn’t pass, supporters were able to change some minds, including Koger’s.

“Koger was definitely a no for the ordinance and we were able to change his mind, which means we have a chance to change others. I do feel like we have connected more and got more people aware of this issue,” she recalled.

Smith says the group’s yet to decide on whether to try again with fiscal court, or try to get the Owensboro City Commission to approve it. Mattingly says he was glad the discussion was civil the past several months.

“The community discussion was good for the community. As I said last night, I was pleased and proud of our community in the way they handled the discussion,” he said.

Smith adds they may wait until the pandemic passes before reintroducing any ordinance. We reached out to both Commissioners Castlen and Wathen for comment. Wathen declined further comment and Castlen did not respond to our request.

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(This story was originally published on April 3, 2020)

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