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City leaders propose anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel

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CARMEL, Ind. (August 17, 2015) — Some city leaders in Carmel say they're hoping to make the area a better place to live and work. On Monday, the council will consider a new anti-discrimination ordinance.

The ordinance is meant to protect people from any potential discrimination, whether it’s a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or disability — a proposal that comes after the controversy following the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The proposal in Carmel would be a safeguard for anyone trying to find employment, housing or services at any business.

The ordinance was drafted by Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard along with the city’s legal department and has been co-sponsored by six of the seven city council members.

Brainard released this statement:

“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.”

- Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard

If the ordinance passes, anyone who discriminates could end-up paying a $500 fine, along with potential attorney fees for each violation and each day the discrimination continues.

Some city council members told CBS4 news that they're expecting a crowd at City Hall on Monday night and say it’s possible the ordinance could be tabled. You can read the full ordinance proposal by clicking here.

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