Measure to ban discrimination against LGBTQ community fails

April 3, 2020 GMT

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — An ordinance that would have banned discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation has failed in Daviess County, the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports.

Commissioners voted 2-2 on the ordinance Thursday during a meeting held online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The so-called fairness ordinance would have barred discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing based on gender identity or sexual orientation, but it contained a number of exceptions protecting the religious beliefs of business owners and landlords as well as general religious rights.


Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly was one of those voting in favor of the ordinance, saying, “All my life, I have tried to stand for people that didn’t have anyone to stand up for them. I have tried to make sure that I was there for anyone being marginalized or bullied.”

Mattingly said the process has opened his eyes to discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

County Commissioner Mike Koger initially opposed the ordinance but voted in favor Thursday.

“My heart has been torn in two because I have friends on both sides of this issue,” he said. “Ultimately, I felt that the issue wasn’t all about the Bible. These folks feel that they have been discriminated against and just want to be on even ground with everyone else.”

Commissioners George Wathen and Charlie Castlen voted against it.

Castlen declined to comment on his vote. Wathen said the process was too long.

“There were people that had a lot of false hope thinking it would pass,” he said. “I’m glad it is over. I think we knew how it would come out — everyone did a month into the process.”

Deanna Smith, the Owensboro Fairness Campaign chairwoman and a candidate for the city commission, said the vote points to the need for the LGBTQ community to be represented in the local government. She also plans to try to get the city of Owensboro to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance.