Danville City Commission Amends Fairness Ordinance

The Danville City Commission on Tuesday evening amended its much-debated Fairness Ordinance to exempt Sunrise Children’s Services, after the organization threatened to sue the city if the measure passed.

The ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Sunrise operates a psychiatric residential treatment facility for boys ages 6-to-18 in Danville.  There are 50-employees.

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An attorney for Sunrise had said in addition to the lawsuit against the city, the agency would also pull out of Danville, taking with it the 50-jobs, if the ordinance became law.

Sunrise did the same thing in Louisville when that city passed a Fairness Ordinance in 1999.

Sunrise argued that Danville would exceed its authority by including classes of people who are not recognized by state anti-discrimination laws if it passed the ordinance.

Currently there isn’t a state law that extends civil rights protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Danville City Commissioner Paul Smiley made the motion to amend the ordinance and exempt Sunrise following a closed session meeting that lasted more than an hour.

Commissioners Smiley, Paige Stevens, Kevin Caudill and Mayor Bernie Hunstad voted for the amendment.

Commissioner James Atkins voted against the amendment.

Commissioner Atkins said he supported the ordinance as a whole and would likely vote in favor of it on second reading, which is scheduled for June 9.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.