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Carmel considers anti-discrimination ordinance

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Carmel is considering a new anti-discrimination ordinance for the city, but the issue was not voted on after its first hearing in front of the city council Monday night.

The council chambers were packed with people both for and against the proposed ordinance.

Residents of Carmel spoke passionately on both sides of the argument for three hours.

The ordinance was written by Mayor Jim Brainard.

He has said in a statement that he wants to make sure Carmel is a welcoming place for “a common respect for each other’s dignity.”

He said he wants to eliminate any discrimination based on religious beliefs.

One Catholic pastor in Carmel spoke against the ordinance, saying that forcing Catholic-owned businesses to serve LGBT couples wanting to get married goes against their religion.

“It would be immoral and going against the faith of a Catholic person who owned a banquet facility to serve or promote the wedding celebration of two persons of the same sex,” Father Richard Doerr said. “Ironically, this proposed ordinance creates a discrimination against a principled Catholic/Christian business owner.”

A group called Freedom Indiana had a large presence at city hall in favor of the ordinance.

They are in favor of more protections for citizens against discrimination based on demographics like sexual orientation and gender identity, in Carmel and other places.

“I think it’s kind of what we are going to see more and more as smaller towns and cities in the state realize this is a very economic issue and they want to say their cities are very open and welcoming for everyone,” Chris Paulsen said.

“People who are maybe Muslim or Jewish or have a child who is gay, they experience that and I want to say as a minister of the gospel of Jesus everyone needs to be loved and cared for and I hope we can find a way to do that,” Pastor Jerry Zehr said.

Council members heard all the public comment and decided to send the ordinance to committee for review, research, and refining.

While six council members sponsored the bill, they made clear that doesn’t mean they support it.