Commentary by Larry Lannan
It is rare for anything to receive a standing ovation at a Fishers City Council meeting. But that is what happened on April 1st when the council unanimously approved a proclamation proposed by Mayor Scott Fadness.
That proclamation declared Fishers as “an inclusive city, proud of its growing diversity, intolerant of discrimination of any kind.” There was a recognition that the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), as originally enacted by the State of Indiana, would not allow a city to exempt itself from its provisions.
Faced with a backlash from corporate interests heavily invested in our state, lawmakers at the Indiana Statehouse backtracked with a “fix” that satisfied most (but not all) of the business interests on the issue of potential RFRA discrimination based on sexual orientation.
I am personally proud that the mayor of my city was out front on this issue. Scott Fadness has expressed to me on a number of occasions how he feels about discrimination based on anything, including sexual orientation. He abhors it.
Some will say Fadness did this to please corporations that are considering a presence in Fishers. I have no doubt that was part of the equation. But Mayor Fadness didn’t have to wait and see or think about this issue. He acted quickly.
Prior to the council vote, I wasn’t absolutely certain the proclamation vote would be unanimous, but it was. As each council member spoke in favor of the proclamation, it was clear they all supported it.
Corporations are learning that in order to attract the best and brightest employee talent, they must encourage an open workplace free of any discrimination. Those same corporations want to locate in states and cities that are perceived to be open and embracing diversity.
Fishers wants to lure corporations into the city. Mayor Fadness has repeated many times that he expects Fishers to be a “smart, vibrant and entrepreneurial community.” That’s a big component of his economic development game plan.
Scott Fadness pushed the passage of this proclamation because he wanted to send a message to businesses across America that Fishers will not stand for intolerance. But the action also came from his deep belief that this was the right thing to do.
Allow me to give my own personal standing ovation to our mayor and city council. I am proud of you.