Berea City Council Votes Against Fairness Ordinance Proposal
After three years of debating the issue, the Berea City Council voted down a proposed fairness ordinance.The measure failed Tuesday night by a vote of 3 to 5.The measure sought to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.The meeting room and an overflow area in a garage next door were both crowded with people with opposing viewpoints. Berea native Betty Rowlett was pleased with the vote."Well, I just don't think we need it in Berea. I think everybody is treated equally, in my opinion. I've lived here all my life and I've never known anything to happen," Rowlett said.Fairness ordinance supporters expressed sadness. Angelique Walker says the vote signified "an old way of thinking."Walker said she believes lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people are being left out."I don't understand why they're not included in these basic human rights. We all have them. I mean, I don't understand. We're all human," Walker said.Tamarri Wieder also supports changing the local law."I'm very disappointed. I was really hopeful that a fairness ordinance would be enacted here in Berea. There's a great history of civil rights in this town. It's really depressing but we will carry on and we won't stop fighting for this here," said Wieder.Resident Tim Taylor said the matter has been polarizing for Berea citizens. Taylor believes the council made the right decision."I hope and pray that we'll come together again and it will be a strong community and help one another. Berea's always been a fair town and I believe it will come back together," said Taylor.In casting her yes vote, council member Diane Kerby said it affects all citizens in Berea if some don't have equal rights. Voting no, council member Violet Farmer said she worried legal court battles would drain city finances.Seven Kentucky cities have passed fairness ordinances, including Lexington, Louisville and Danville.