Fairness ordinance dies

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

A proposed fairness ordinance in Pleasureville is dead in the water.

After Shawn Mertz motioned to approve the ordinance, his fellow commissioners stared at the table. They stared at their hands. They said nothing.

And Mertz’s motion, and thus the proposed fairness ordinance, died for lack of a second.

Mertz introduced the ordinance, via City Attorney Bill Brammell, in October. The ordinance, based on similar ordinances passed in five other Kentucky cities, would prohibit discrimination in real estate rentals and employment based upon an individual’s sexual preference as well as their gender identity.

When the item came up for discussion in Monday night’s commission meeting, Mertz curiously moved to table the ordinance.

Commission member Vic Harrod emphatically said no, that the board would take care of the issue on the spot.

What little discussion there was, and it wasn’t much, after that was bristled and contentious.

Before making his own statement in support of the ordinance, Mertz looked to the audience, complete with members of the ACLU, to ask if they had anything to say before he started.

But Mertz was cut off by Pleasureville Mayor Rodney Young, who snapped that the audience had no say, that this was for the commission’s discussion only.

Mertz said that while there are certain groups of people already protected by federal law, he feels the city could go further. “It’s something I believe in,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone else on the board believes in it. This was to protect the citizens of Pleasureville.”

Mertz cited his experience as a veteran and said that he served five years in Iraq to protect freedoms. “It’s up to me to put this out and say hey, this is what I believe in, whether ya’ll believe in it or not,” he told the commission.

Young’s sole argument had to do with how the ordinance was introduced. “The biggest complaint I had… all ordinance should come to the board first, and the board approve to have it done,” he said.

Mertz offered an apology for that, and then motioned to approve the ordinance on its second reading.