HENDERSON -- By an expected vote of 3-2, Henderson has become the 11th Kentucky city to adopt a Fairness Ordinance.
Henderson -- which had a Fairness Ordinance on the books 20 years ago for 18 months before it was repealed after the city commission makeup changed -- now joins Louisville, Lexington, Covington, Vicco, Frankfort, Morehead, Danville, Midway, Paducah and Maysville.
Just like at the first vote, Mayor Steve Austin and Commissioner Patti Bugg voted against the ordinance. Commissioners Brad Staton, X.R. Royster and Austin Vowels voted for it.
As for some here who lamented the amending of the local Fairness Ordinance to include the language of the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign in Kentucky, said he doesn't see that as a problem at all.
"In terms of the amended ordinance, that's standard for what we see with Fairness Ordinances that pass in Kentucky these days. After the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed here in 2013 in Kentucky (on a state level), we started to see that language appearing in the Fairness Ordinances because it made some people more comfortable. It didn't change the efficacy of the Fairness Ordinance at all.
"It's state law, so it really doesn't matter whether the language is in this ordinance or not," he said. "We are already bound to state law in every city in the state of Kentucky."
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is meant to safeguard those with deeply held religious beliefs.
In the city of Henderson's Fairness Ordinance, it states that "The City of Henderson is prohibited from substantially burdening a person's freedom of religion ... Accordingly, where a person, by action or inaction, violates the provisions of Chapter 10 of the City's Code of Ordinances due to a sincerely held religious belief, the individual or entity alleging the violation must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the City has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest to establish the existence of the violation."
The overall ordinance, meanwhile, is aimed at prohibiting "discriminatory practices on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations."
The city's new Fairness Ordinance will go into effect after legal publication requirements are fulfilled. That process usually takes a week or two.