There was a great deal of talk last year about whether Daviess Fiscal Court would take up a non-discrimination ordinance, also known as a "fairness ordinance," which would bar discrimination in employment and housing against members of the LGBTQ community.

But despite the debate, the process of formally presenting a document that county commissioners could either "yes" or "no" on never got off the ground.

Thursday evening, however, people in support of Fiscal Court passing a fairness ordinance set the process in motion, by presenting county commissioners with a draft ordinance for them to consider.

Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly said once the ordinance is reviewed, public hearings can be held, likely before the ordinance's first and second readings in Fiscal Court.

While nothing has been scheduled yet, the first public hearing could be held this month, which would leave February for first reading and a second public forum, Mattingly said.

"The final vote could come in the first meeting in March," Mattingly said.

How that vote would go is unknown. Commissioners George Wathen, Charlie Castlen and Mike Koger said in mid-November they would not support such an ordinance, and Mattingly said he would support it.

Thursday's Fiscal Court meeting was almost over, and had been largely uneventful, when fairness advocate Chad Benefield rose to give the draft to commissioners.

Benefield mentioned that Fort Thomas had recently passed a fairness ordinance, making it the 17th city to do so. Benefield said Woodford County is poised to similarly ban discrimination against LGBTQ residents next week.

"I'm still a little heart-hurt that Daviess County can't make the claim of being the first" to pass a county-wide non-discrimination ordinance, Benefield said. "So we are here to tonight to make sure Daviess County is the second."

The ordinance, Benefield said after the meeting, is based largely on Georgetown's non-discrimination document, with some changes.

Benefield said people he has spoken to are in favor of Fiscal Court approving a non-discrimination ordinance.

"The overwhelming majority supports (passing an ordinance); there is no doubt about it," Benefield said.

Advocates for the ordinance presented Fiscal Court with information last year about people who have been discriminated against in Owensboro because they were LGBTQ.

"When people hear these stories, they can't believe this is an issue," Benefield said. To people who have claimed there is no discrimination against the LGBTQ community, "my comment was, 'you're not talking to the right people',"Benefield said. "It's easy to say there's no discrimination if it's not happening to you."

Commissioners did not comment during the meeting, nor did anyone else in attendance.

The ordinance will first be reviewed by County Attorney Claud Porter, with forums held after the review is finished.

Mattingly said he expects there to be a huge public interest in the ordinance -- so large, in fact, that the forums will have to be held somewhere other than in the courtroom at the courthouse.

"I'll look for a public place," such as Brescia University or the RiverPark Center Mattingly said. "We'll have a community conversation and we'll see what happens."

After the meeting, Mattingly said he wants comments at the forum to come only from people who live in Daviess County.

"I absolutely do not want outsiders," Mattingly said. "... This is a local issue."

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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