CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The city of Carmel has a new anti-discrimination ordinance aimed to protect residents against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The city council voted 4-to-3 to pass the new ordinance at its meeting Monday night.
Another packed room for the third and final hearing of Carmel’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
Council members heard dozens of opinions, with a fairly even split between those supporting its passage and those in opposition.
“This spring, with the number one hashtag being ‘#BoycottIndiana,’ our state was absolutely devastated,” resident Denise Moe said.
Moe believes putting protections for sexual orientation and gender identity into city code sends a message to potential Carmel residents.
“It’ll help businesses, it’ll help technology, it’ll help our community and it’s the right thing to do for all people of Carmel,” she said.
Father Richard Doerr of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church brought a group to protest outside city hall Monday night.
He says that he feels this ordinance will prohibit his rights and that it will discriminate against Christians.
“Part of what our constitution includes is the ability to worship God and to practice your faith in a way that is unhindered by something that’s happening in the public square,” Doerr said.
Three council members voted against the ordinance, including Luci Snyder.
“We’re trying to balance the rights of those who legitimately say we should be treated fairly and the rights of those who say freedom of religion and the exercise thereof is an inalienable right,” Snyder said.
Four council members ended up voting in favor of the passage, including Ron Carter.
He said despite some questions over language specifics, this will be positive for the city.
“I find myself in a position of saying ‘yes, we need to do this and we need to do it now and it’s an appropriate ordinance.’ When all of the smoke screen is taken away, we need to do it now,” Carter said.
Should someone feel they have been discriminated against under this new ordinance, they can file a complaint to the city attorney.
The attorney will investigate and determine if a warning or a fine is warranted.
As this ordinance was passed tonight, a warning will be issued first and then a $500 fine for the next offense.