Reflections on the Georgetown Fairness victory | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Reflections on the Georgetown Fairness victory

Photo taken by Mary Meehan of WEKU Radio. Danny Woolums, Jr, Georgeotwn native and CKY member, speaks about the need for Fairness at Georgetown Council meeting.

Georgetown passed a fairness ordinance on September 9, becoming the 13th Kentucky city to do so. Since writing this, Versailles became the next city to pass a fairness ordinance, and Highland Heights has had its first reading, with a second reading is scheduled for the 15th.

I am a retired public school teacher, an adjunct professor at Georgetown College, a mother of five children (two of whom are gay), and a grandmother to seven. My husband, a local pediatrician, and I both spoke in favor of the ordinance.

After a tabled motion over two years ago that stymied the passage of a fairness ordinance, our Fairness Campaign Committee and other members of KFTC needed a new strategy. Even though we had presented the city council with over a thousand signatures of support, and even though we had organized a Pride Picnic attended by over 300 people, we still could not garner enough votes to pass a fairness ordinance.

Our new strategy was to make Fairness an election issue and to give each city council member the chance to express their views on fairness by speaking at our next Pride Picnic. Citizens were able to hear their views, and those who did not speak were given opportunity to express their views on paper. 

Georgetown got a clear indication of those candidates running for city council who would vote for a fairness ordinance, and we initiated an all-out effort to elect pro-fairness candidates. Three of the city council members and the mayor worked with legal counsel to draft an ordinance that would protect legal religious exemptions, yet make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

The strategy worked! The vote for Fairness was 5-3. The mayor would have broken a tie in support of fairness, but he did not need to.  

My husband and I and my lesbian daughter held hands as the roll call vote was taken. We trembled with anxiety as we knew this would either be the blessing of an historic victory – or the curse of legal discrimination to continue unabated and unreported. 

When we realized that the fairness ordinance had passed, we were elated and misty-eyed. The exultant crowd moved into the hall to hug, and cheer, and celebrate. 

Join us in celebrating this victory for Fairness at Fairness Rocks at Royal Spring Park in Georgetown on October 19 from 2 to 4 p.m!

Emotionally, we were exhausted as the discussion lasted over three hours, and many of the speakers expressed hurtful and religiously inaccurate comments about LGBTQIA people and the Bible. It was especially difficult for all the LGBTQIA people to have to sit in silence while others condemned their lifestyle and desired to limit their civil rights. 

There was, however, an overall level of respect, and an overwhelming number of speakers who supported the ordinance. Most saw this vote for what it was: a civil rights issue, not a religious issue. 

Most moving were the speeches from the LGBTQIA community, one of which was delivered by Marsha Moors-Charles, the lead pastor at Bluegrass United Church of Christ in Lexington, whose wife had lost her teaching job in Scott County as a result of her sexuality. Moors-Charles's ability to speak as a lesbian Christian minister and to refute the misconceptions of other professing Christians in the crowd was most welcomed. 

After the vote, we even had to endure watching two of our council members who voted "No" laughing and making comments that disparaged gay people. The comments were caught on an open mic, and therefore others got to see and hear just why this ordinance was so very necessary. 

On Facebook I wrote that the five council members who voted "Yes" were true Profiles in Courage and that I was so very thankful for the ways they showed grace under pressure.

My final words to all the LGBTQIA people in the crowd were, "Welcome to the new Georgetown. You can finally put down your suitcase, open it, and make your home here. Did you feel it?  The earth just moved under your feet, and the arc of the universe just bent a little more towards justice tonight!" Yes!!