Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Bowling Green Fairness Ordinance Stalls
Date: March 8, 2017
Contact: Richard Nelson (270) 271-2713
Bowling Green, KY—  Last night, the Bowling Green City Commission rejected an ordinance that would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity into the city’s nondiscrimination code. During a work session open to the public, the Bowling Green City Commission for the first time in two years heard speakers who were opposed to the ordinance.

Commonwealth Policy Center Executive Director Richard Nelson pointed out that the City Commission has repeatedly requested that people who've been unjustly discriminated against to bring their complaints directly to them. Yet none have. "Since there are no documented case of sexual orientation discrimination in Bowling Green there is no need for such an ordinance," Nelson said. “This is just another case of a solution looking for a problem.”

Nelson was one of 64 speakers before the commission and said that the "Fairness" laws unnecessarily sexualize the workplace. "We were once told that somebody’s private sexual life is nobody’s business," Nelson said. "If this ordinance passed, it would have made private, sexual behavior an issue in the workplace.” Nelson testified that the law would be easy to abuse and explained that if employers shouldn’t ask about somebody’s private sex life during  an interview and the prospective employee doesn’t bring this up, then an employer cannot be reasonably held accountable for failing to hire somebody based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The majority of speakers favored the ordinance, yet several local residents were opposed and said that similar laws have been used against business owners whose religious convictions preclude them for serving a gay wedding.  Bakers, florists and photographers have been fined and some threatened with jail time for refusing to provide their goods or services for a gay wedding. "To be clear, we're not talking about declining service to an individual," Nelson said. "We're talking about an event that many believe to have religious significance." He added that nobody is for unjust discrimination, but what about the unjustly punishing business owners for their deeply held religious convictions?