Religion

LGBT Anti-Discrimination Law Sparks Debate In Indiana Town

| by Maura Turcotte

A very heated debate over LGBT protection has reportedly emerged in a suburban city in Indiana.

Republican Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel, Indiana, recently drafted a new anti-discrimination ordinance, the IndyStar reports. The proposal seeks to protect residents from discrimination based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, along with race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, family or marital status, ancestry, age and veteran status.

The city of Carmel would fine anyone who violates this new measure $500 a day until the discrimination is fixed.

“Nobody should be discriminated against,” Brainard told the IndyStar. “Governments are here to protect our basics rights. The ability to go into a business and feel comfortable is a basic right.”

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While many in Carmel welcomed the ordinance -- especially in light of Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could allow religious beliefs to be cited as a reason to discriminate -- others were not too pleased with the idea of the measure.

In fact, the meeting for the proposal attracted over 100 people to the council chambers and the room quickly filled to capacity, with many more listening outside the door.

Councilman Eric Seidensticker currently remains undecided on his vote, but he did tell the IndyStar that he believes the government should not interfere with businesses.

“They are fully within their right to be stupid,” Seidensticker told the IndyStar. “It’s important we make the changes at home and raise our children differently.”

Several others in the suburban city believe the new LGBT legal protections would violate the First Amendment rights of religious believers.

"The proposed ordinance creates discrimination against the Catholic business owner," Rev. Richard Doerr from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church said, according to the IndyStar. "We must be allowed to respectfully disagree."

Amid concerns over the new proposed measure, Brainard offered changes at the meeting that would allow religious business owners to refuse to provide services or products.

After Kevin Rider, the Council President, said that the council would not fast-track the proposal, another debate on the topic was scheduled for later in the week.

Sources:  IndyStar (2)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Robert Scheer/The Star