An uneventful six years since Frankfort was one of the early adopters of so-called fairness ordinances reminds us of something we’ve long believed about our community: that Frankfort is an accepting place.
Regardless of skin color, sexual orientation or physical disabilities, one can live a good life here. That’s not to say we’re perfect as a community, and the important work of groups like Focus on Race Relations challenges us to stamp out vestiges of prejudice and to reconcile hardened hearts where they linger.
Yet, the city’s fairness ordinance — so hotly debated in the weeks leading up to its 2013 passage — has been enforced just a handful of times since, reporter McKenna Horsley found when writing in the weekend edition about the ordinance’s anniversary. Such inactivity points to an inclusive town, or at least one free of overt discrimination against disadvantaged people.
Noteworthy is that not a single usage of the ordinance involved alleged discrimination against gay people — the aspect of the law that riled up citizens on both sides who filled City Hall to make their voices heard in the debate. Had the ordinance dealt only with race and disabilities, it would have passed without a peep.
Dan Egbers, an excellent choice by Mayor Bill May to lead the ordinance-inspired Frankfort Human Rights Commission, noted the significance of the body's inactivity, especially given the intense emotions surrounding the issue six years ago.
“When they were talking about passing this ordinance, a lot of people were against it because they didn’t think it was necessary, and you could make the case,” Egbers told Horsley. “You know, in six years, we’ve had four cases, so maybe that’s some evidence that those people were correct, but without that structure there, there would be no place for those people to go.”
It could also be true that the ordinance was and is a forceful deterrent for any business or organization that might be inclined to discriminate.
On balance, we’re glad the ordinance, which we endorsed six years ago, was adopted. We’re even happier that it’s been rarely invoked, a credit to an inclusive Frankfort for those who call it home or have occasion to visit.