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By Ken de la Bastide
ANDERSON – Hearing only two public comments in opposition, the Anderson City Council approved an ordinance extending legal protections to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
The council on Thursday adopted unanimously the ordinance that adds the LGBT community to the list of protected classes when it comes to housing, education, employment and public accommodations.
Councilman Russ Willis said he doesn’t believe in discrimination and that laws are needed at times to make sure people do what is right.
He said the council was making a protected class for some and creating discrimination for others.
Willis said bald people, obese, skinny people could be discriminated against and that the council should outlaw discrimination period.
Mike Porch said it was a black day for Anderson and at one time the city wanted to be known as a righteous city. He couldn’t believe that there were no public comments during the initial passage of the ordinance at the November
“What these people need is compassion,” he said.
Porch said Bible verses explain what will happen to people and that the city of Sodom was destroyed by God.
“I appeal to you as people elected to your positions,” he said. “We put the future in your hands and elect you to do what is right.”
Porch said the council members should consider the impact on future generations of the city.
Pendleton resident Jerry Shelton said the country is giving up its moral values and that God’s judgment is coming.
“Three million people didn’t vote in the last election because of apathy and we can’t turn this country around,” he said. “Have we gone too far and can we turn it around.”
Anderson resident Bill Jackson said the arguments being used against the ordinance were probably the same as in 1962 against black people.
“This is a new day,” he said. “Can’t we respect gay people enough to pass an ordinance that protects people?”
Councilman Rodney Chamberlain said we all have to answer to the “guy upstairs” and he was not going to judge anyone.
“The reality is we’re all human beings and people have rights,” he said.
Councilman David Eicks said he believes in the separation of church and state and that his God teaches not to judge people.
“In the spirit of the separation of church and state, I’m not going to allow discrimination,” Eicks said.
Donna Davis, president of the council, said there is no room for discrimination in this country.
Council attorney Tim Lanane said the ordinance provides the same protections as those already in city ordinances for sex, religion, race, color, national origin, ancestry and handicap.
Lanane said the protected classes have been in ordinance form in Anderson for many years.
He said anyone experiencing discrimination can file a complaint with the Human Relations Department, which would then investigate the allegations.
The Human Rights Commission can issue a cease-and-desist order and in some cases issue a fine.
The debate over protecting from discrimination the LGBT community put Indiana in the national spotlight last spring when Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Reform Act. It would have initially allowed businesses to refuse to serve certain members of the community based on religious beliefs. The legislation was hastily amended by the Indiana General Assembly to include protections.
Indianapolis, South Bend and Evansville are among Indiana cities with local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Carmel, Muncie, Hammond, Terre Haute and Columbus have adopted or are considering similar proposals. Goshen voted down an ordinance to offer the protections, and in Elkhart, an ordinance was withdrawn.SHARE THIS STORY