Fairness Ordinance voted down again in Bowling Green

Published: May. 7, 2019 at 8:56 PM CDT
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Bowling Green's City Hall was at maximum capacity Tuesday afternoon, as people in support and opposition of an ordinance to expand discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, shared their views and stories.

Hour by hour, and person after person -- community members shared their personal experiences and convictions -- as they approached the podium before Bowling Green's City Commissioners, in hopes of either solidifying or swaying the previous straw poll vote of 3-2 in opposition from the first reading of the Fairness Ordinance.

55 people spoke in support of the ordinance, while 31 others voiced their opposition.

"I think as anybody, as a resident of America, those laws have been there for years, and everybody knows their rights. It's not just the group, or another group, it's that the laws are there for everybody, and everybody should know their rights," said Karla Diaz, a Bowling Green citizen for 15 years, saying she didn't feel it was necessary to add to what federal laws have in place.

Many reasons motivated the voices heard that evening. Some of the members from the opposition discussed their religious convictions motivating their belief in not having an ordinance, while some of those from the supporting side shared their own stories of discrimination. Others stepped up to the podium to give a short statement of encouragement to vote one way or the other.

One said the Constitution already afforded protections to all citizens.

"I feel terrible about some of the experiences that those LGBTQ community have experienced. Laws aren't going to change that. Something needs to be done, but changing laws that take away the rights of others is not right either," said Bonita Sherwood, in opposition of the ordinance.

"It's not -- like, the Constitution isn't there in place to handle local instances like this of discrimination, and in that case, an ordinance is necessary," said Alexander Miller, a transgender man in support of the Fairness Ordinance.

After approximately 87 people spoke Tuesday evening over the course of over 3 1/2 hours, the commissioners took a vote -- unchanging from the first reading -- 3 in opposition, 2 in favor.

"I was afraid that that would not be a movable number," said State Representative Patti Minter.

In the end, Mayor Bruce Wilkerson, and Commissioners Joe Denning and Sue Parrigin's votes remained the same as before.

"I didn't come here tonight to decide something; I came here to vote. A decision had been made many years ago, and everyone on the Commission knew where we all stood, so I was appreciative that people came and expressed their opinion, and did it in a kind and compassionate way," said Mayor Bruce Wilkerson.

"They don't represent the wills of the people, and now we know that," said Miller.

"It's past time for Bowling Green to pass a Fairness Ordinance, but I know that that time will come, and I'm proud to stand with this community for the rights that should belong to us all," Minter said.

Supporters say they'll regroup to continue working to bring about the ordinance in the future.

The ordinance won't be able to be brought up again in this term unless someone from the opposing side were to sponsor it, so as it stands now, another vote seems unlikely to happen until 2021.


The Bowling Green City commission voted against a Fairness Ordinance in its second reading.

The vote was 3-2 in opposition.

By Commissioner Slim Nash and Mayor Bruce Wilkerson's count, 31 people speaking Tuesday evening were opposed, with 55 people testifying in favor. An additional speaker's opinion wasn't able to be identified by the commission.

The full ordinance is listed as follows: