City leaders in Berea air concerns over proposed anti-discrimination ordinance

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BEREA, Kentucky — City leaders in Berea are considering how to implement a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that had its first reading this week.

The ordinance is modeled after others that include protections for gays and have passed in a handful of Kentucky cities. It is designed to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, among other factors.

Some council members at the Tuesday night meeting were concerned with personnel and other costs associated with processing discrimination complaints, The Richmond Register reported (

Council member Vi Farmer said she is worried about additional personnel costs, since the city would have to contract with an attorney to serve as a hearing officer. Mayor Steve Connelly says Berea would likely contract the Fayette County Human Rights Commission for those functions.

Council member Chester Powell questioned the recent budgeting of $12,000 to fund activities of the Berea Human Rights Commission. Council member Diane Kerby noted the appropriation was to cover operational and public relations costs, at which point Powell asked if the commission should be required to raise their own money.

After the meeting, Connelly said people on both sides seemed to be too narrowly focused on the issue of sexual orientation and gender. He said it was important to note that the ordinance addresses all forms of discrimination.

"We're talking about a golden rule community where we treat each other the way we want to be treated," Connelly said.

The meeting drew a crowd of about 150. A second reading and vote on the measure could come at an Oct. 7 meeting.

Information from: Richmond Register,

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