OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — Officials in Owensboro have decided to put off considering a gay rights ordinance for at least a year.
Mayor Ron Payne (http://bit.ly/1odtinn) told the Messenger-Inquirer that things need to "cool down" before the City Commission discusses the issue. The so-called fairness ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
"This fairness ordinance has become quite controversial," Payne said during a heavily attended City Commission meeting Tuesday night at City Hall. "We've been bombarded. We are going to postpone it for about a year. It doesn't mean we may not eventually address the issue. I want to know if we have a problem here. I'm not sure we do."
Payne said people would be given the opportunity to comment on the issue in that time period and officials would research how such ordinances have worked elsewhere.
He said opposition to the ordinance has mounted quickly.
"I don't think we had a good sense of how sensitive the community would be," Payne said after Tuesday's meeting. "On the surface, it seemed like, why not do it? Why discriminate against anyone? But do we have that problem here? I've never heard a complaint. But we were also told (having the ordinance) would impact business (positively). So, let's talk to other cities, and let's find out. We need to do more homework and more education of the community. At this point, it's not an issue that we need to rush to develop an ordinance."
At least seven other Kentucky cites have passed a similar ordinance: Danville, Lexington, Louisville, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead and Vicco.
Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com