FLATWOODS, Ky. — With a vote of five members of the Flatwoods City Council, and one abstaining, the second reading of a city ordinance which would deny transgender usage of restrooms and shower facilities in government buildings in Flatwoods was passed Saturday during a special meeting.
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign in Louisville, Ky. was among the seven members of the audience who addressed the Flatwoods City Council at the special meeting Saturday. Hartman told The Daily Times that the vote in favor of the ordinance has made the city vulnerable to legal action.
“So, obviously, we were here to see what the city (Flatwoods) was going to do about passing a bill that would implement discriminatory practices against transgender folks in violation of the recent decree from the Obama administration, and in violation of Federal Civil Rights Laws,” Hartman said. “The council passed five to zero, with one member passing, and I fear now that Flatwoods has made itself incredibly vulnerable to legal action.”
Hartman compared the situation to the state of North Carolina.
“It’s undeniable that the city will be sued, if not by organizations like the ACLU, and certainly the federal government, which is already suing North Carolina. I don’t know why the Flatwoods council thinks that it will fare better in a federal lawsuit than North Carolina, but I suppose we are about to find out.”
Anthony Keaton, pastor of Abundant Life United Pentecostal Church in Flatwoods, also addressed the council and expressed his support of the council’s proposal.
“The Lord Jesus Christ loves everybody, but because he loves everybody, he also as set a standard of living for people, and through the standard of living declared in the word of God find it mentioned that because the Bible tells us so,” Keaton said. “So today, I stand behind this council and the mayor and their ordinance that they have brought forth, and I pray that they would have unity, because with unity there is strength and through unity good things happen. I know that today there are people that fear if we do not pass this agenda. You say protecting the transgender? Well let’s protect the majority of our community.”
After public comments concluded, council man Gray Tomblyn posed a question to Flatwoods City Mayor Ron Fields regarding the ordinance.
“Mayor Fields, we’ve had discussions Thursday night and this morning, do you care to tell us how you feel about this,” Tomblyn asked.
“This is an ordinance that was brought forth from the city council, the mayor has nothing to do with ordinances, and it is going to be your all’s call. I don’t have a vote in it, unless it’s a tie vote,” Fields said. “That is the way it is going to be.”
Tomblyn proceeded to ask Fields whether or not he agrees with President Barack Obama’s public restroom directive. “I think the community needs to know where the mayor stands on an ordinance proposal that the council has brought to the forefront,” Tombly said.
Fields stated living with the law is something he has to live with.
“He is the president of the United States, and whether I like it or not, I have to respect that office. I think that he has made a statement whether I like it or not, that’s a law that I have to live with,” Fields said.
The mayor’s response did not appear to pacify Tomblyn, as he again asked the mayor whether or not he agreed with Obama’s directive.
“I said that he is the president, and he has made an executive order, that’s just like me, I’m a mayor,” Fields said. “If I make an executive order, whether it is favorable, or whether its not favorable, it’s an executive order that has to be carried out.”
An outburst from a person in the audience, said the words, “Answer it.”
Fields said he is a Christian and believes that only women should use women’s’ restrooms.
“I’m a Christian man. Do I think women should go to the restroom with other women? Yes I do. I don’t think that a man belongs in there,” Fields said. “I think our society has put the city of Flatwoods into a predicament that we should not have to be in. We should not have to fight it because this is your federal laws. We have to live by the federal laws and state laws. This is not a fight for the city, although I do not believe that a man should be in a woman’s restroom.”
The mayor also said he does not presently know how they will “police” restrooms going forward in government buildings in Flatwoods and that he would be talking with the prosecuting attorney, and the chief of the Flatwoods Police Department.
Council members who voted yes on the second reading of the ordinance were Gray Tomblyn, Kent Picklesimer, Samantha Salyers, Lowell Gullett, Jr. and Carl Wheeler. Council man Ray Sloan said he desired to abstain because he has friends on both sides.
The Daily Times requested a copy of the actual ordinance proposal of the Flatwoods City Council regarding transgender restroom usage but were told the document would not be available for public access at the present time.
Pastor Anthony Keaton, of Abundant Life United Pentecostal Church in Flatwoods, Ky. addressed Flatwoods City Council regarding transgender usage of restrooms at the special meeting held Saturday at the Flatwoods Municipal Building. Keaton said he was in favor of the Council’s proposal ordinance to deny transgenders into restrooms in government buildings.
Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign of Louisville, Ky. expressed his opposition of the Flatwoods City Council ordinance to deny transgender usage of restrooms in government buildings in Flatwoods, Ky. at a special meeting held Saturday.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.