After four-hour meeting, Carmel councilors delay anti-discrimination vote

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CARMEL, Ind. (Aug. 17, 2015) -- Following three hours of passionate public comment, the Carmel City Council decided to delay a vote on an anti-discrimination ordinance.

The ordinance, written by Mayor Jim Brainard, bans discrimination against 12 protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identification. It would allow the city to fine a person $500 per day for discriminating against someone else, with certain exemptions.

It drew a packed room to the council meeting Monday, where speaker after speaker went to the mic during three hours of public comment.

A majority of speakers were against the ordinance, most citing religious beliefs.

"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," First Baptist Church of Carmel Pastor Kurt Larson said.

"It’s called non-discrimination but yet it is discriminating to people of faith in business," one resident said.

Others, though, rallied before meeting to show their support for the ordinance. Denise Moe was among them. The new Carmel resident and activist said she believed it's good for business and attracting young people to stay in the city.

"We need to differentiate ourselves from the rest of Indiana which unfortunately has a pretty bad reputation nationally," Moe said.

That reputation stems from controversy over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Brainard also said the ordinance was a way to restore Carmel's reputation and attract business.

Given the opinions both ways, councilors sought to talk about the ordinance further. They'll consider three amendments made by Brainard, along with other possible changes, in committee meetings. The first comes this Thursday at the finance committee at 5:30 p.m.

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