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Louisville passes contentious pro-gay ordinance

Louisville passes contentious pro-gay ordinance

Louisville, Ky.'s metro council on Thursday night renewed a civil rights ordinance that includes a ban on discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The ordinance passed by a 19-6 vote, surviving two hours of debate. Four proposed amendments were also defeated, including one that would have sent the proposed ordinance to the voters. "I think we're moving too fast on this," said councilman Doug Hawkins, who pushed for the referendum. The ordinance prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, family status, age, disability, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation in hiring, housing, and accommodations. The issue elicited strong reactions from council members on both sides. "My eyes have been opened that bigotry, discrimination, anger, and hatred run rampant in this city," said metro council member Madonna Flood. "It should not be tolerated by any of us." All six council members who opposed the ordinance were Republicans, including Robin Engel. "I don't know how many CEOs are gay," Engel said. "My point is, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get to the top and become a CEO. If you aim high, set goals, and work as hard as you know how, you can achieve your dreams." The measure mirrors the old Jefferson County civil rights ordinance, which has been in place since 1999. Under the city-county merger, all laws carried forward from Jefferson County and the old city of Louisville must be reenacted by the end of 2007 or they will be stricken from the books. Mayor Jerry Abramson will sign the renewed ordinance, spokesman Chad Carlton said. The evening vote ended a contentious week of news conferences, lobbying, and rallies by opponents and supporters. Proponents of the ordinance said that gay, lesbian, and transgender people have the same rights to live and work in the community as others. Opponents said the ordinance amounts to special rights for people who they say choose to be different.

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