More News from an Old Hometown

Although I haven’t lived in Union, KY since 1987, my parents lived there for almost 31 years, from August of 1978 until they were murdered in June, 2009. Dad was the mayor from 1983 to 2003, when he finally said it was time for someone else to do the job. Even then, he came back a few years later, serving in a part-time capacity as City Administrator until his death. It was a profound honor when the Union City Building was named after my father, with a garden in front dedicated to my mom.

As you might expect, I follow events in Northern Kentucky — and specifically in Union — even though I haven’t been in the region since my brother was sentenced for the murders in 2013. The city has changed drastically since I lived there, and even since my last visit. Still, it’s a place I think of as home, much as I think of Nashville, where I was born and lived until I was nearly 13. I cheer for the Bengals and Reds, enjoy Cincinnati-style chili and Graeter’s ice cream, and lived in Kentucky even when I worked in Cincinnati in the 90s.

So a week or so ago, I noticed an article in Cincinnati’s paper mentioning that the city of Union was going to vote on an ordinance intended to ensure the rights of LGBT people in the city. There is already a resolution to that effect on the books, but the proposed ordinance would have the force of law, which the resolution does not. I generally don’t like to directly involve myself in politics — my inclination is more towards that of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth: “What do you mean I don’t support the system? I go to court when I have to.” But as I said, it’s home to me. And so I sent an e-mail to the city commissioner who sponsored the ordinance:

Dear Commissioner Garner:

   Although I have not lived in Union for many years, I still feel a strong connection to the community. The building where you meet is named for my father, and the garden in front of it is dedicated to my mother. I simply wanted to tell you that my parents would be proud of the work you’re doing to pass the Fairness Ordinance.

   Mom and Dad were sensitive to the issues of the LGBT community for as long as I can remember. After the death of his father, my father was mentored by a gay man, and Dad considered that man to be the smartest person he ever met. Mom and Dad taught me that LGBT folks were – like anyone else – individuals who deserved to be treated with respect and dignity, particularly given that during my youth and young adulthood, LGBT people had to face more than their share of hostility and difficulty. In my teens, when I told my folks that a kid I knew might be thrown out by his parents for being gay, my folks instantly said that he could have a place to stay with us (although the situation did not actually come to pass.)

   My parents believed that LGBT people were our friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren (and in fact, one of their own grandchildren – my daughter – is gay), and that they should be treated accordingly, which is to say, they should be treated with the same love and kindness we would show anyone else. Consequently, I am quite certain that they would appreciate your efforts in this direction. I know I do.

   Thank you for your efforts, and please keep up the good work.


Warren S. (“Smitty”) Moore, III

Commissioner Garner replied to me a few days later, thanking me for the encouragement and asking if he could share my thoughts before last night’s meeting of the City Commission. (For the record, the Spawn is fine with being mentioned both in my note and in the Commissioner’s reading.) I told him I was fine with that. So he did.

It didn’t help. The ordinance was defeated, 1-3, with one abstention. Commissioner Garner was kind enough to e-mail me after the meeting and let me know. He acknowledged feeling dispirited, so I felt I should reply.

Honestly, I’m not surprised. I am disappointed, and my folks would have been as well. But I thank you for the effort you made, and I know that it had and has value. I’ll leave you with the words of T.S. Eliot – words that have always brought me a degree of comfort.

“If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that it will triumph.”

Understand — I don’t think that the various public accommodations in Union would seek to exclude the Spawn or the Main Squeeze from restaurants or other public accommodations in town. And I understand the concept of freedom of association for business owners (It’s worth noting that the proposed ordinance had carve-outs for religious accommodation and other personal moral imperatives). But as I told Mr. Garner, I think my parents would have been saddened by the result (and in particular, I shudder to think of how my mom would have reacted to someone who refused to serve her granddaughter because she’s gay.)

But my parents also taught me to respect the process, even when I disagree with the results. So I’ll still think of Union as a place I call home — even as I hope that last night’s defeat and dismay will prove temporary. And I’ll hope that eventually, the city will once again live up to the examples of the man and woman honored at the city building.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Family, Politics, Why I Do What I Do. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to More News from an Old Hometown

  1. Dennis Cossens says:

    Unfortunate to hear about the result, but also feel proud of you for your missive…Clearly, the present political climate has priorities beyond individual rights…I plan to follow whatever path I can to pursue the rights of the oppressed…

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