The Carmel City Council decided to keep its anti-discrimination ordinance in committee for more work instead of voting on the proposal at its Sept. 21 meeting. As a result, the matter will likely receive a vote on Oct. 5.
The proposed law, which comes after the passage of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, outlaws discrimination for many groups and extends new protections to gay and lesbian groups.
City Council President Rick Sharp made an attempt to pull the ordinance out of committee but four city councilors – Eric Seidensticker, Luci Snyder, Carol Schleif and Kevin “Woody” Rider – voted to keep the bill in committee. Councilors Ron Carter and Sue Finkam joined Sharp in attempting to bring it to a vote.
“I never intended for this item to go to committee,” Sharp said. “This is an item of intense interest and an item of intense emotion … This sausage absolutely needed to be made on television. I wanted media and attention and broadcast … I believe we could have made more progress in the last month.”
Sharp said Snyder has committed to having a special meeting on Oct. 1 and believes the ordinance should be ready for a vote on Oct. 5.
Snyder said she opposes discrimination but thinks the law needs more work because she believes it’s too short and vague.
“The ordinance in front of us has specific words in it and it is three pages long,” she said. “Here’s an anti-discrimination ordinance from Columbus and it is 22 pages long … so I think there’s real work that needs to be done.”
Snyder said many terms need to be specifically defined in the ordinance.
“When you create a law, it has to be the words that you want it to be,” Snyder said.
The last time the ordinance was brought up at a meeting of the Carmel City Council it led to three hours of public comment. At that meeting, speakers against the ordinance far outnumbered speakers for ordinance, although supporters packed the chambers with stickers and matching red shirts.
At the Sept. 21 meeting, Sharp introduced a new rule: only new speakers were allowed and there would be a two-minute time limit. At this meeting, every single speaker supported the ordinance.
Megan Roberson, from Tech for Equality, talked about how the ordinance is a business issue. She represents a group that was recently formed to support LGBT rights in Indiana. It includes companies such as Salesforce.com, Angie’s List and NextGear Capital.
The meeting also included young speakers, including a gay man in his twenties who moved to Carmel because he was told it is a welcoming community, and a Carmel High School freshman.
“I attended the last city council meeting and frankly some of the comments shocked me,” said Chris Moe, a student at CHS.