The Carmel City Council is expected to discuss a proposed ordinance on Aug. 17 designed to strengthen the city’s anti-discrimination policies.
Ordinance D-2224-15 contains language that provides protection to residents from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family or marital status, ancestry, age and veteran status.
The ordinance was drafted by Mayor Jim Brainard, along with the City’s legal department and has been Co-Sponsored by six of the seven City Council members.
Brainard issued a statement about the ordinance in a press release:
“The people of Carmel, indeed the people of Indiana, have always been warm, welcoming and friendly to all, both friends and strangers. The term Hoosier Hospitality comes to mind. And while we should all respect the religious beliefs of our fellow citizens – whether they be Jews, Catholics, Christians, Mormons, Muslims, Hindu’s, Atheists, Agnostics, or one of many other faiths and beliefs – I feel it is important that we recognize there is a distinct difference between how we worship our God in our churches, our homes and our hearts versus how we live, play and conduct business in the melting pot of mixed faiths and passions that we call America.
“Many of the world’s traditional faiths teach and believe the following: Men and women from all walks of life must be treated with respect, compassion and kindness and every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. It is time that we stop trying to define each other by the variety of labels society has created. It is far past the time that we look past the colors of our skin, the appearance of our bodies and the choices we make in the privacy of our own lives. It is time we see each other as human beings first and foremost.
“The ‘free exercise of religion’ guaranteed to U.S. citizens in the First Amendment to the Constitution does not give one the right to discriminate. If one were to claim that their religion allows discrimination in treatment of certain groups does it not follow that one can then be exempt from being charged with murder, robbery, theft and other crimes so long as it is done under the auspices of some ‘religion?’
“I hope that this ordinance will make clear to everyone that Carmel continues to be a welcoming place for anyone to pursue life, liberty and happiness with a common respect for each other’s dignity.”
Below is the full text of the ordinance.
A ORDINANCE OF THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CARMEL, INDIANA, PROHIBITING CERTAIN DISCRIMINATORY CONDUCT WITHIN THE CITY
WHEREAS, it is the policy (“Policy”) of the City of Carmel, Indiana (the “City”) to encourage a diverse citizenry and to, within constitutional and statutory limits, make its businesses, housing, public accommodations, education, employment, contracts, programs, services, and amenities equally available and open to all persons; and
WHEREAS, the Policy serves a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest; and
WHEREAS, after appropriate discussion and deliberation, the Common Council of the City has determined that discrimination in the provision of and/or opportunity to participate or enter into businesses, housing, public accommodations, education, employment, contracts, programs, services, and amenities on the basis of a person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family or marital status, ancestry, age, and/or veteran status is a burden to the objectives of the City’s Policy and contrary to the American principles of freedom and equal opportunity.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED by the Common Council of the City as follows:
Section 1. The foregoing Recitals are incorporated herein by this reference.
Section 2. The following addition should be and the same is hereby made to the Carmel City Code, shall be codified therein as Chapter 6, Article 1, Section 6-8, and shall read as follows:
“§ 6-8 City Nondiscrimination Policy
(a) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the City that no person, corporation, partnership, company, or other individual or entity located within, or conducting business within, the City’s corporate limits shall discriminate against any other person in the provision of and/or opportunity to participate in or enter into a place of business, obtain housing, use public accommodations, obtain an education, obtain and maintain employment, enter into a contract, and/or participate in or obtain any program, service, or amenity provided to the general public on the basis of the latter’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family or marital status, ancestry, age, and/or veteran status.
(b) Any person or entity that violates the City’s Nondiscrimination Policy as set forth in subsection (a) above shall, in addition to any fines, penalties, and other terms and conditions imposed by any federal, state, or county court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction, be subject to a fine of up to Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), plus reasonable attorney fees and costs, for each such violation, each act of discrimination against a person and each day during which an act of discrimination continues constituting a separate violation.
This section shall not apply to
(1) Religious worship and clergy while engaged in religious duties or activities; however, business activities by religious institutions or clergy are not excepted;
(2) A not-for-profit membership club organized exclusively for fraternal or religious purposes and/or any not-for-profit social club that is not open to the general public, so long as the same is exempt from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code, as amended;
(3) Any persons or property expressly exempted under Indiana Code 22-9 et seq., Indiana Code 22-9.5 et seq., or any other applicable and binding law or court decision;
(4) A private residence or private gathering not open to the general public;
(5) The maintenance of separate restrooms or dressing rooms for the exclusive use of persons of one gender;
(6) The hiring or referral for employment of a person for a job position on the basis of sex, religion, and/or age in those certain instances where the same are lawful bona fide occupational qualifications for the job position at issue.
Section 4. If any portion of this Ordinance is for any reason declared to be unconstitutional or invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this Ordinance so long as enforcement of same can be given the same effect.
Section 5. This Ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage and signing by the Mayor.