VICCO — The city of Vicco on Monday became one of only four cities in Kentucky to approve an anti-discrimination Fairness ordinance after the city commission voted three-to-one in favor of the order.
The vote came after debate among the commissioners as to what the ordinance would actually do for the city.
“There’s a gap basically, and this ordinance is meant to fill it,” Eric Ashley, Vicco city attorney, explained.
The ordinance will protect the rights of any citizen of the city so that they cannot be discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity; this includes being denied service at restaurants or being kept from renting an apartment, among other things. According to the Fairness Coalition, the group backing the ordinance that has been in the works since the beginning of the year for Vicco, this is the state’s first ordinance of this kind in a decade.
“This is not elevating any group above another, this is just making everyone equal,” Ashley said.
Ashley also said it would be better to enact the ordinance now, even before there was a case of discrimination of this sort in the city, because the law could not work retroactively and would not be able to right a previous wrong.
Police Chief Tony Vaughn, who will serve his first day as police chief on Feb. 1, was part of the discussion before the vote was taken.
“I’d like to have a law on the books so that I could protect people,” Vaughn said. “From my stand point, it just makes it easier to enforce the law.”
Commissioner Tim Engle was the only vote against the law, while Mayor Johnny Cummings, who is Vicco’s first openly gay mayor, abstained from voting. Commissioner Joel Coots was absent from the meeting.
“I just don’t see it being an issue for the city of Vicco,” Engle said.
Engle said he understood what the commission was trying to achieve with the new regulation, but still could not vote for it.
“There are things we’re not going to agree on, and that’s perfectly fine with me. That’s what the debates are for … that’s what this group’s here for,” Engle said. “I want them [commissioners] to do what they think’s right and what they think they need to do.”