Carmel committee to talk about anti-discrimination ordinance again Thursday

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Carmel, Ind. (September 17, 2015) - Carmel's Finance, Administration and Rules Committee will pick up the discussion of an anti-discrimination ordinance again tonight.

City Councilors decided last month not to vote on the proposal, but to send it to committee for further study.

The proposal was born in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard proposed the ordinance and said it's meant to protect people from 12 categories of discrimination, including sexual orientation, age and disability. It fines people $500 per day for discrimination against someone else, with certain exemptions.

A majority of the people who showed up at the meeting last month spoke against the ordinance, citing religious beliefs. Speaker after speaker went to the mic during three hours of public comment.

"I do have a problem with someone who believes differently than I do and tries to force me or even demand that I act against my own belief system, against my own conscience," said Kurt Larson, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Carmel.

"We oppose this ordinance because we think it’s just an unnecessary solution to a problem that doesn't exist," said Curt Smith, Indiana Family Institute President. "Carmel, Indianapolis, all of Indiana is warm and welcoming. There’s no discrimination. There’s no problem."

But plenty of residents do side with Mayor Brainard, who argues it would promote a welcoming city and attract businesses and residents.

"The point is that we want to let people know that Carmel cares about all its citizens," said Annette Gross, a resident in favor of the ordinance.

"Indiana’s reputation was tarnished," said Denise Moe, Freedom Indiana. "Nationally, Indiana's reputation has taken a hit and unfortunately that has had ramifications for Carmel and we’re trying to rectify that. It is very vital to our economy that we not only attract corporations to relocate in Carmel, but we need to attract talented, educated, technical young talent."

The Finance, Administration and Rules Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.