MIDWAY — A Midway City Council committee considering a draft anti-bias ordinance Tuesday deleted language about religious liberty and sincerely held religious beliefs.
The language was similar to that in an Indiana law that raised an uproar a few weeks ago because some saw it as allowing discrimination against lesbians, gays and transgender people.
City attorney Phil Moloney, who wrote the draft ordinance, said the language merely mirrored that of state and federal laws.
But committee chairman Dan Roller said the language was unnecessary.
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"There's no need for us to repeat what state and federal laws say," Roller said. "This seems to allow discrimination... . I don't think this is a law about freedom of religion."
Committee members Bruce Southworth and Sara Hicks agreed with the de letions. So did Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, who is not a member of the committee but who attended Tuesday's meeting at city hall.
"My fear is that you're going to allow anybody to discriminate and say 'It's my sincerely held belief,'" Vandegrift said after the meeting. "No one can determine what's sincere and what's not."
The committee will have the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission review the ordinance before it goes to city council.
The ordinance would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would replace Midway's current fair housing ordinance.
Under the ordinance, complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity would go to the mayor or another person designated by the mayor.
The mayor may attempt to negotiate a settlement between the disputing parties. If a settlement is not successful, the mayor will conduct an investigation to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the allegations.
If there is no probable cause that a discriminatory action occurred, the mayor shall dismiss the complaint.
If probable cause is found, the mayor shall try to eliminate the alleged violation by a conciliation agreement.
In the event of an unwillingness to participate in a conciliation process or no conciliation agreement has been reached, the mayor shall refer the complaint to an administrative hearing.
Anyone found to have violated the ordinance may face civil penalties of $100 to $500.
An aggrieved party may appeal the decision to Woodford Circuit Court.
A public forum will be held in early May to allow those who live and work in Midway a chance to air their views about the proposed ordinance. Vande grift hopes that forum can be held at Midway College, but those arrangements have not been completed.
Midway City Council might not have a first reading of the ordinance until late May or early June, Vandegrift said.
If the council approves the ordinance, Midway would become the eighth Kentucky city to pass such a law.
Lexington, Louisville, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead, Danville and Vicco in Perry County are the other cities with similar ordinances.