BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
HUMAN RELATIONS ORDINANCE PUBLIC HEARING
APRIL 9, 2012
The Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on Monday, April 9, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. in room 301 of the Civic Center Complex with President Marsha Abell presiding. This was a continuation of a previously recessed public hearing held March 19, 2012. The purpose of the public hearing was to hear public comment concerning the proposed amendments to Chapter 2.56 of the Vanderburgh County Code of Ordinances.
Call to Order
Madelyn Grayson: Excuse me, we have two sign in sheets up here, for those of you who have come in late, there’s one in favor of the ordinance, if you want to speak in favor, the other one is in opposition to the ordinance. You must sign in. The Commissioners are only hearing new speakers this week. The people that spoke last time will not be speaking tonight.
President Abell: Also, we only have this room until 5:00 p.m. So there will not be any time for lengthy speaking. So, if you cannot keep your comments to like three minutes, you might want to write them down and leave them with us, because we do not, we have City Council meeting here tonight and we have to vacate this room. Are we ready? I’ll call to order the public hearing of the Human Relations Commission.
Pledge of Allegiance
President Abell: We will begin with the Pledge of Allegiance.
(The Pledge of Allegiance was given.)
Attendance Roll Call
President Abell: Attendance roll call please.
Madelyn Grayson: Commissioner Kiefer?
Commissioner Kiefer: Here.
Madelyn Grayson: Commissioner Melcher?
Commissioner Melcher: Here.
Madelyn Grayson: President Abell?
President Abell: Here.
Overview of Meeting Format
President Abell: We are going to follow the same format that we had several weeks ago. We’re going to begin with the attorney for the Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission, Mr. Kent. Could you make your comments in around five to ten minutes? Afterwards, we have an attorney, Mr. Bryan Beauman, that’s going to speak for the same length of time, and then we’ll take public testimony.
Human Relations Commission Counsel Presentation
David Kent: Ms. Abell, I will keep my comments brief. As we discussed last time–
President Abell: Is your microphone on?
David Kent: As we discussed last time, it is our legal opinion that the ordinance, as presented, is valid. There has been substantial concerns with regard to the sexual orientation and gender identity portions of the amended ordinance. Under Indiana’s Home Rule statute, we do not believe that we are in conflict with the State statute, which provides us the authority to have an ordinance and have a local Human Relations Commission. Because of that, we do not believe that this is conflict in any way, shape or form. As we noted earlier, there are several Indiana cities that have more stringent statutes in this same area than we do. Our ordinance is voluntary, it is purely an optional situation for a party that has been charged. They do not have to answer the complaint, they do not have to participate in the process in any way, shape or form unless they desire to. Under our communications with HUD, who provides funding to us, under their personal, not their personal, their departmental regulations with regard to these areas that they follow, but we are not subject to, however, they have communicated to us that in going forward with this amendment, it would be an opportunity to provide statistical information to them as to whether or not a problem in this area exists, thus necessitating our view in making this part of the statute voluntary, our ordinance voluntary. There are several Indiana cities, specifically we did this after Ft. Wayne. Ft. Wayne’s is a voluntary statute, or ordinance. For example, Indianapolis is not voluntary. They can go forward on a complaint for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, Indianapolis, Lafayette, South Bend and Tippecanoe County can all proceed to public hearing and fact finding on a basis of discrimination for sexual orientation or gender identity. That is not what we have here today. This is purely a voluntary process. Ourselves, Bloomington and Ft. Wayne’s ordinance is voluntary in nature. We do not have the ability to fine anyone in this area. In fact, Lafayette and South Bend actually have the ability to fine someone should they find, make a finding of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These are not where we are in our proposed amended ordinance. I cannot stress enough to the Commissioners that when I was asked to put this together and we went through the process, the voluntary aspect of it became very important in terms of determining whether or not a problem exists. To solve any problem, one must know if the problem exists. Those who do not wish to know that the problem exists will never know that a problem is there. I think we, I want to really keep it at that, because the focal point that I have seen through the last public hearing has been with regard to is this Commission condoning a different sexual orientation or gender identity by passing this ordinance. I don’t believe that you are condoning anything. That would be akin to saying, well, we tax cigarettes so we’re condoning smoking. No one condones smoking. So, however you feel about sexual orientation or gender identity, the Human Relations Commission would ask you not to fall in the trap of saying you’re condoning something. You’re not. You’re looking to find out if there is a problem here. If there is a problem, people should not be discriminated against based on that problem. That is the view of our commission. That is the view that they have brought to me in terms of crafting this ordinance the way it is written. That’s why we followed Ft. Wayne and went with the voluntary aspect, rather than going after a situation where it was enforceable, as it is in other cities. I’ll note to the Commissioners that the ordinances that are enforceable, meaning they are not voluntary, Indianapolis, Lafayette, South Bend, Tippecanoe County, no one’s challenged any of those ordinances. They just haven’t been challenged. So, as we sit here today, we know that other cities have taken the lead and said, yes, we believe we can expand our statute, we’re not bringing it in, we’re not conflicting with the State statute, we’re expanding it, but we’re expanding it in such a fashion that, you know, to be brutally honest, is palatable, because we need to know if there is or is not a problem before you go to a situation where it becomes should we go down the road and say we need this to be enforceable, we need some teeth in this ordinance in these areas.
President Abell: Commissioners, anything for Mr. Kent? Okay, thank you, Mr. Kent.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Can I ask him one question?
President Abell: Yes, you may ask him anything, Mr. Harrison.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Did Allen, Allen County did not pass such an ordinance?
David Kent: No, it is the city of Ft. Wayne, it is not Allen County.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Right, and are there any other counties that have passed gender identity discrimination ordinances in the State.
President Abell: Two.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: No?
David Kent: Well, Tippecanoe County has.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Okay, is that the only one?
David Kent: That’s the only county that I know of right now, in terms of county-wide.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Okay.
President Abell: Not Marion? Monroe?
David Kent: Indianapolis basically, no, it’s not Marion County.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: It’s the City of Indianapolis.
President Abell: Monroe County, but not Marion County. Monroe County–
David Kent: Monroe County has, along with Bloomington.
President Abell: – theirs indicates on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or disability. The one from Tippecanoe County reads; race, sex, religion, color, age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, familial status, national origin, ancestry and status as veteran. Those are the two counties.
David Kent: Correct.
President Abell: The rest of them are cities. The City of Evansville has already passed this.
David Kent: That is correct.
President Abell: Thank you.
Alliance Defense Fund Counsel Presentation
President Abell: Mr. Beauman. Please state your name for the record, sir.
Bryan Beauman: Thank you, Commissioner Abell, Commissioner Melcher, Commissioner Kiefer. I’m Bryan Beauman, I’m an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund. I’m based in Paris, Kentucky. The Alliance Defense Fund, just by way of introduction, is a not-for-profit legal alliance of approximately 2,100 like minded attorneys and organizations that defend the right of American citizens to freely live out their faith. If I may, I want to address three issues with you today. The first is the discussion about Home Rule, the second is the impact that we know and we have seen and we have litigated that ordinances and statutes like these have on religious liberty throughout the country, and third to just briefly touch on the gender identity implications, because that is unique in this ordinance compared to many of your others. I’m pleased to hear that the Human Relations Commission recognizes that they’re very limited in what they can do in order to confine within Home Rule. Of course, you all know what the Home Rule statute is, and I’m not going to repeat that, but, if I may, this is where I will take small issue, legally, with Mr. Kent. If you’ll pull out your ordinance and look at it briefly with me, I want to highlight some things for you, because what we’re told is that the ordinance is voluntary. That this is voluntary for people to comply with. I would submit to you that that’s a misnomer, probably inadvertently made. When you look at what will be the new section 15, dealing with places of discrimination and public accommodations, it reads; “it shall be unlawful”. Then it goes on an addresses the categories. When you look at section 16, which is discrimination in education, it says; “it shall be unlawful for any person, establishment, governmental agency”. For number 17, under other unlawful practices, which, and then 18 which brings in employment and others, “it shall be unlawful”. That is how it starts. That is not voluntary. What they mean by voluntary is when a complaint is made, that is when you can voluntarily defend yourself. Well, let me tell you briefly about Hands On Originals. This has been in the news in the last two weeks. Hands On Originals is a t-shirt manufacturer and printing service in Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington adopted an ordinance like this several years ago. The local gay and lesbian support organization approached Hands On Originals asking for t-shirts to be made in support of the local Pride Festival upcoming in the next few months. Hands On Originals is a Christian based business. Most of their work are for churches and church camps. In fact, they have a division called Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters. When they heard that the shirts were for the Pride Festival, which would be celebrating homosexual behavior, they declined the order, but said, we will find another vendor to match our prices. Well, a complaint was filed by the GLSO, under the ordinance, and before the time to respond had even been made, if that were Vanderburgh County, before the opportunity even came where they wanted to voluntarily defend themselves, the Human Rights Commission was quoted in the press, the members were quoted, their executive director was quoted, the Mayor was quoted, claiming that discrimination like this shouldn’t exist in Lexington. Some of their largest clients, some of which were publicly entities, fired Hands On Originals, before they even had the opportunity to decide whether to defend themselves. So, I would submit to you, the ordinance is not voluntary. When the county says, “it shall be unlawful” to do “x”, shall means mandatory. You don’t pass ordinances hoping people comply. What is voluntary is whether a defendant in these actions is going to defend themselves or not. I submit to you that that’s a trap that no business or any individual should be put in. But, second, the other part to this ordinance is a contract revision that you all have inserted. I don’t think this has anything to do with the Human Relations Commission. What that says is that any party to a contract with the county must have in place a non-discrimination policy on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. That provision is not voluntary. If anyone wants to use any of your facilities, be any of your vendors, they must write that policy in. Let me move on, and let me give you some examples of what we know that ordinances and statutes like this and how they impact people and businesses. These aren’t fantasy situations that we come with, these are real life cases. First, let me start with interactions regarding families and relationships, such as counselors, and doctors and lawyers and psychologists. Marsha Walden was a licensed counselor in Georgia holding religious beliefs about homosexual behavior, and these beliefs prohibited her from using her skills as a counselor to affirm same sex relationships. A client approaches her one day seeking that counseling, she politely declines, the client who came in immediately got counseling from someone else, but complained. Marsha was initially suspended and then fired by her employer because of requirements like this. Under a similar law in New Mexico, a wedding photographer company was accused of engaging in sexual orientation discrimination when it refused, for religious purposes, not to photograph a same sex commitment ceremony. That tribunal ruled against the photographer, issued a fine of over $6,000 against her. In Vermont a same sex couple that owned a small family inn expressed some reluctance about hosting a couple’s wedding ceremony and they were sued. In Virginia Bono Fillman Video declined to reproduce two documentaries promoting homosexual behavior on their religious beliefs, they were sued. I told you about Hands On Originals in Lexington, which had a complaint filed against it two weeks ago. But, beyond expression and events services, it also stifles religious liberties of businesses whose owners work on family relationship issues. Adoption placement agencies whose owners religious beliefs prevent them from placing children in same sex households have come under attack from these ordinances. We’ve heard recently about Illinois and Catholic Charities and the decision that they were forced to make because they would not comply with that State statute. Dating services come under attach, E-Harmony was sued in California. E-Harmony is a Christian based dating service, and they refused to place ads for people seeking same sex relationships, and they were sued. In Des Moines, Iowa, the YMCA had a complaint filed against it because it chose not to offer family discounts for same sex households. Any business in Vanderburgh County which offers family discounts will fall under attack and have to change their ways of thinking in this ordinance. Physicians and hospitals may be forced to provide elective fertility procedures or sex change operations. These aren’t whimsical notions, it happened to Northcoast Women’s Care Medical Group in California and the Catholic hospital there. Licensed counselors and counseling students fall under attack. One last example that just happened last week was in Miami University in Ohio, in Oxford. There a female student who professes a male gender identity has made an internal complaint against the school because she was denied permission to be an RA in the male dormitory. Now, I know what you heard last time, and you may hear more, is that a vote in favor of this ordinance is a vote against discrimination. As much as the proponents wish that were true, you can’t divide that clear of a line. What happens is a vote for this may address sexual orientation and gender identity concerns, but what it also does is impacts, frankly, a much larger segment of your community, and that is people who for matters of faith and their beliefs oppose being forced to condone this type of behavior. When your ordinance declares those beliefs unlawful, you do force people to alter their religious beliefs simply to choose to make a living in this community. I thank you for your generous time this afternoon.
President Abell: Commissioners, do you have any questions?
President Abell: We are going to have some public testimony. I can tell you that all of you are not going to be able to get in because we don’t have that much time, and this was actually addressed as a meeting for the Commissioners to pose our questions. So, the last part of this is going to be reserved for the Commissioners. Everyone did get to speak at the last meeting, we stayed late to get that to happen, so, you have to understand that we have a limited amount of time in this building. Monte Fetter, did you wish to speak?
Monte Fetter: My name is Monte Fetter. My wife and I own Fetter Properties Management Corporation. I’m also President of the Property Owners and Managers Association of Evansville. We’re a group of local landlords, approximately 100 strong. We represent about 4,500 different rental units. I would say that we are against discrimination in housing, however, in this instance we stand opposed to this ordinance. There are always unintended consequences to any law, ordinance or anything that’s passed. In 1968 when the Civil Rights Act was passed, until that time we were innocent in any court in the land until proven guilty, and at that time we became guilty, if charged, and had to prove our innocence on housing related issues. It’s very difficult to prove that you did not do something. The Human Relations Commission has said, that the only way we can do that, is to write our rules down and to even apply them across the board to everybody that comes in. That’s the only way we have to prove our innocence if we are charged. So, that’s what we must do. Given the manner in which the federal government has said that we must do this, every citizen in the United States has equal rights, because if I don’t equally apply my rules, I lose my proof, and I stand guilty. If somebody does bring a charge, they will come to my office and ask to see my rules. That’s the very first question I will be asked, is do you apply these evenly across the board? I better be able to say yes. Now, I previously said that I was against housing discrimination. We started 26 years ago downtown in an historic area when First Street wasn’t near as gentile as it is now. We have rented to these folks all this time, and there are great people and there are bad people. There’s not, I can’t tell any difference to tell you the truth. If they’re good people we want to rent to them. If they’re not, we want nothing to do with them. It’s that simple. If we do rent to them, they want to know that they’re going to have a good neighbor next door. Evansville has a lot of distressed houses, a lot of rundown properties, landlords have been pretty much underground for the last 20 years. We’re trying to change that, we’re trying to work with the city and different commissions and groups to get these buildings repaired, to get some insulation and houses retrofitted with windows, to update our stock and keep these properties on the tax paying rolls and keeps them in production. We need tools to screen with. We don’t need less tools. We don’t need restriction on how we screen people. We need to be able to have a drug offenders website in the county. We need to be able to go online to court records and see who these problem people are. If we want better housing, then we’ve got to be able to find the better tenants. The good folks of this class aren’t the issue that I have with this ordinance, it’s the abusers. The ones that will stand there and hide behind it. The ones that haven’t paid me rent, the ones that need to be evicted, the ones that are being a problem to all of their neighbors and nuisance and then hide behind this ordinance. These are the issues that we face. My group is more than happy to sit down and talk to anybody about housing issues in Evansville. If there are housing issues and problems, we would be glad to do that. Personally I think it’s foolish for any business man to discriminate on any reason. Why in the world would you want to cut out a sector of the public that is your client. I see no problem with these folks. I have no problem renting to them. There’s good and there’s bad, but don’t tie our hands, and don’t make it harder for us to find good tenants. For that I ask you to vote this down. Thank you.
President Abell: Michael Harris, Murris?
Michael Harris: My name is Michael Harris. I’m a student, a senior at USI. I’m nearly complete to teach here. I was born here, raised here, and I love it here. I really can’t wait to go back to Harrison to teach. My former teachers ask me everyday when are you going to be done, when are you going to be done? I said, well, it’s coming up, and I’m really excited to teach right next to you. But, when this ordinance came up I had to pause for a moment and really think if this is where I wanted to stay. Merely because if I go teach, it strikes me as very odd that I could be fired because I’m gay. Not because of the quality of how I teach. I’m also a gay youth advisor here, and it really hurts me as a future educator to have to tell the youth who really, you know, don’t really keep up, who automatically think that their rights are implicit, that they are there. The pain I see on their faces is profound. It really hurts me. I never really understood why it hurt me so much, until I really thought about that face. I’m biracial, my mother is white, my father is black. It’s the same pain that mother had in her face when she told me stories of way back in the day when my father and her were walking down the street and a group of individuals in a car began to throw bricks at her and my father. My father just told her to run, and she didn’t see him for about, I think it was three days, until the hospital called and he was there. Fine, thank goodness, but he was there. I think about who could do such a thing? During that time, as I look back, because I’m an historian, it wasn’t okay by law’s standards, but it was what wasn’t there that they thought that they could do such a thing to someone who just loved another, only because of the color of their skin. If I could go back and time and shake the hands of the Commissioners then who passed ordinances to protect my mom and dad, I would just shake their hands and say thank you. Thank you. But, the same, it’s the parties of hate who stand up against civil rights then who stand up against it today is what disturbs me the most. But, I am optimistic because I see the make up of this group. I mean, as I said, I’m an historian so I understand the adversity that you have to go through, Marsha, to be in a group of men, dominated by men, and to see you sit there strong and proud. It makes me proud. You understand it all too well, Stephen. That’s why I’m optimistic, because I see you all up here today, you understand that civil rights is for everybody. It is not to be voluntary. Civil rights is for everyone. Thank you.
President Abell: Clapping takes away from our time. Glyn Pfohl.
Glyn Pfohl: Good afternoon. My name is Glyn Pfohl. I am a resident of Vanderburgh County, Evansville, Indiana. I was born here, March 26, 1943, on Herndon Avenue, Herndon Drive near Fendrich Golf Course. I was raised here. I was educated here, Scott Township Grade School, Reitz High School, Evansville College. My wife and I of over 50 years have five children, four of them were born here, one was adopted. We have 11 grandchildren, all of them are from Southwest Indiana, except one who lives in Colorado, and we have three great-grandchildren that also live in southern Indiana. I said all of that to say that I have a vested interest in the future of our city, probably as much as anyone in this room. It concerns me greatly that this ordinance is even being considered. Not that I am a person of discrimination, because I’m not. Two meetings ago Mr. Melcher made the statement that I whole heartedly agree with, he said, in Evansville we are against any form of discrimination. I agree with you sir, but the truth is, there’s no one in this room that has not been discriminated against. I’ve listened to both sides, I’ve been to every meeting, I’ve heard emotional appeals on both sides, like the one you just heard, throwing bricks. No one in this room has been free from discrimination our entire life, but I also say that no one in this room has not been guilty of discrimination. We’ve all been guilty. In fact, I pastor a church in this town also, we have had homosexuals and lesbians that have attended, and hopefully they’ve sensed the love of Jesus when they came. We might still have some attending, I don’t know, that’s not my position. My position is to present Christ and the love of Christ to everybody that walks through the doors. I’m reminded of a story in the Bible where some men with stones in their hands brought a lady and threw her at the feet of Jesus and said the law of Moses says that she should be stoned. Jesus reached down and wrote something in the sand, I assume he was writing their sins, he said, “ The one that’s without sin, let them cast the first stone.”, and one by one they dropped their stones and disappeared. He picked her up and said, “Where are your accusers?”, and she said, “None, my Lord.”, and he says, “Neither do I condemn thee.”. He didn’t stop there, he said, “Go and sin no more.”. You can’t legislate love. It’s a matter of the heart. We need laws to help us and guide us in the right directions, of course. I have prayed about this, earnestly, I’ve prayed for both sides, I’ve prayed for you folks, and I believe I have the mind of God, as far as I’m concerned. I have an advantage over you, I have no political agenda, I don’t have to worry about reelection and such as that. My decisions in life are based on, number one, what would Jesus do? And, number two, what is best for our community? What would be best for my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, their families and on after me? Now, the attorney has stated several times in the past meetings that this amendment has no teeth. Well, my concern is if it has no teeth, then why is wasting hundreds of hours of our time, meeting after meeting, and all of these people that are here? If it has no teeth then do away with it and let’s get on with something with teeth. My concern there is simply this, it might not appear to have teeth, but there’s a hidden agenda. Everybody that is in control in decision making today won’t be there next year, or the year after, or the year after that. Someone behind you will come in with a different interpretation of what this is supposed to be, and once it’s on the books it is a law, and to violate that amendment or ordinance, then we are guilty. So, make a decision please, based on what’s best for my grandkids and my great-grandkids, and not for a small group of people that have come in to go to college here. My kids graduated, several of them graduated from USI. I have others that have graduated from Oakland City–
President Abell: Sir, your time is almost over.
Glyn Pfohl: –okay, I just want to mention one thing. In my prayer for you folks, and earnestly have prayed, more than once, that God would give you His heartbeat and help you to make a courageous decision, not based on the emotional appeals of all of these people, but what’s right before God.
President Abell: Thank you, sir.
Glyn Pfohl: Thank you.
President Abell: Rob Kerney. Please hold your applause and your booing. Rob Kerney. Mr. Kerney, we’re trying to keep our comments below five minutes. I’ve got a long list of people here that want to speak.
Rob Kerney: Am I in the right place here? I’ll try to make mine quick, Madam President. At the age of four I developed what was then called diabetic onset diabetes, which is now Type 1. Through my teenage years I didn’t pay attention to what the doctors said and eventually it caused me to go blind. I grew up in a very conservative family that told me that if you were being discriminated against, you just weren’t working hard enough, and you’ve just got to try harder. After going blind I found out this was not right and that there was discrimination out there. For the last 21 years, since I went blind at 24, I’ve been advocating for people with disabilities against discrimination in employment, education, etcetera. This gives more teeth to it. Employment is still a problem, even with the Americans with Disabilities Act, due to the fact that it has no teeth. You have to go to civil court and prove your case. So, I’ve decided, or learned since that there is disability, that I am against any kind of disability. It hurts me, the fact that we have to have an ordinance to get rid of disability in this great country of ours. That it’s not widely accepted, but we have to do what we have to in order to get the right thing done. So, in that case, like I said, I’m against discrimination. This involves people with disabilities, it seems not to be making the news media or any of the public speech, but people with disabilities need people to stand up for them too, because we need our fair share. Thank you so much.
President Abell: Thank you, Mr. Kerney. Jim Bratten.
Jim Bratten: Good afternoon, Commissioners and visitors. My name is Jim Bratten. I’m a resident of Evansville and Vanderburgh County. We heard at the testimony today and at the prior meeting a lot of stories about personal difficulty and trials and tribulations, difficulties that people go through everyday. Everybody has their case or has their story of some type of discomfort, or some type of discrimination. Everybody discriminates in some areas. As attorney Beauman mentioned earlier, the problem with this ordinance is the word voluntary, because voluntary eventually becomes involuntary. Just like the old adage that nothing is so permanent as that which is temporary. That’s the way ordinances and laws tend. They start out in a mild form and they decompose into something that a lot of people hadn’t intended in the first place. We already have a law in the State of Indiana called the Indiana Civil Rights Act, and it’s all inclusive. It protects race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry. Several recent court cases have reinforced the tenets in this Act. This ordinance does nothing more than seek to subdivide citizens in this county into ever more political divisions, specific groups of victims. When can we expect further subdivisions is my questions to the people here in the Commission of the county? When can we expect for the subdivisions, based on height, weight, eye color, whether you’re right or left handed? The job of government is not to micro manage society. It’s not to push society in certain different directions, and to try to mold reality into an artificial thing that it’s never intended to be. In my opinion, the ordinance is unnecessary. We here terms all the time that are inventions. Human rights is one of them. Humanity is a group, it’s a species, it’s a subset. It has nothing to do with individual rights. Every individual has rights given to them by their Creator. A group doesn’t have rights. But, everything we see nowadays is defined as being part of a group. It’s subdivided, it’s segregated, it’s divided into something it wasn’t intended to be. Human is a classification. We’re all human beings, but as humans we don’t have rights, we have rights as individuals. I’m free to make distinctions in my life based on what my preferences are, and that can be based on faith, economics, it can be based on a number of things. That’s my decision to make as a free individual in a Constitutional Republic. When you have things happen which are assaults on somebody’s individuality, there are laws to protect against that, and they should be pursued. That’s one reason I have a big problem with hate laws. Because if you murder someone, it’s because you murdered them. You took somebody’s life. It doesn’t matter what your intent was psychologically. You did the act. The act is what the law deals with. Here in this ordinance we have something that deals with intent, with what you think I believed, or my intent was, or what my decision making capacity was on any given day. That can’t be codified. So, all I ask you is to reconsider what you’re doing and what you’re building. We have a nation of laws not of men, that’s true, but the weight and the depth and the breadth of the laws we are creating is crushing society. It makes it harder to do business in certain counties and towns and states. It makes it harder for individuals to get to know one another. It does a lot of things that the laws weren’t originally intended to do, but that’s what they end up doing. So, consider intent and what the law is supposed to be, and then take a look historically at what laws ended up to do, especially the ones that never had that intent in the first place. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Clark Field.
Clark Field: Good afternoon. I was a Human Relations Specialist for the city-county here for 15 years. I investigated up to 1,000 complaints, mainly employment, probably 95 percent employment through those years. It was always a problem with people who came in with a disability, because we could not investigate them if they were local. We would have to send the charge to Indianapolis. It is very hard for somebody here to have somebody in Indianapolis to investigate their charge. So, it was really a hardship. Age, at that time, was the fastest growing discrimination in the State, and yet we could not investigate it locally. So, that was a real, real hardship. When it came to sexual orientation or gender identification, yes, somebody asked is there a problem? Yes, there is. I can vouch for that. We always had a continual group of people that came in that felt like, and from what they told us they were discriminated against because of their gender identification or especially their sexual orientation. I mean, the word was out that they were not covered. They were not protected from discrimination. So it was very heart rending to hear their stories and to tell them that there’s no recourse for you. We cannot help you because you’re not protected. So, as far as I’m concerned, there’s an urgent, urgent need for the county to follow the city and to pass this ordinance. I was here last time, and I was here today, there’s a lot of confusion over this ordinance, because I’ve heard people both times talk about their moral feelings or their church identification and they didn’t agree with this lifestyle, or they didn’t agree with whatever. That has nothing to do with it. My moral, you know, my moral code, my conscience only affects me. I can’t go up to somebody else and say, you know, you’re not behaving right and I don’t think you should be protected. That’s absurd. So, I think there’s an awful lot of confusion. Our friend from Kentucky today jumped all over the United States giving examples, he was mixing oranges with apples. We’re talking about discrimination because of all the different things, but, today, as you know, we’re covering those that aren’t covered, especially this sexual orientation. People are concerned about their own feeling, their own conscience. We’re talking about somebody losing their job, or not being hired because they have a different sexual orientation. My personal feelings, or my moral feelings have absolutely nothing to do with that. If I’m an employer and I don’t agree with divorce, does that mean I can’t hire somebody or I fire somebody because they get a divorce. That’s absurd, you know. It might be my conscience, but what’s that have to do with it? The law says, we’re talking about people being discriminated against, turned out of a job, not hired, not allowed to have a home, not allowed to have a good education because of their personal preference or their orientation or whatever, you know. If a judge doesn’t believe in a divorce, does that mean he shouldn’t hear a case, a divorce case, or an attorney, if they don’t believe in somebody’s religion or they disagree with it, does that mean they can’t represent that person? That’s absurd. So, I think there’s, I’m not attacking people who think that, but there’s terrific confusion here. We’re talking about, do we in Vanderburgh County, the State of Indiana, want to have a certain group of people that have no protection under the law? That they can be discriminated against, they can be fired, they can not be hired, they can be thrown out of their house or whatever. I don’t think we want that, and that’s what we’re talking about, not all this other junk that people are bringing up. I’m sorry to use that word, but I feel very strongly about this, and I did have pretty much experience for 15 years.
President Abell: Do you have a question?
Commissioner Kiefer: Mr. Field?
President Abell: Please.
Commissioner Kiefer: I’ve got a question, you said 15 years you had numerous–
Clark Field: Not numerous, no, I wouldn’t say numerous because people knew that they weren’t really covered, but they still came in. We had people during those 15 years come in and say what happened to them because of their sexual orientation.
Commissioner Kiefer: I heard earlier a testimony at our previous public hearing that people that we’re talking about today of different sexual orientation or gender identity actually have a higher income level per capita, and then also their employment rate is higher than the city, state and national average is.
Clark Field: That would surprise me, but I don’t have those statistics.
Commissioner Kiefer: Okay, I was just curious if you had statistics.
Clark Field: That might be the ones that are hired.
Commissioner Kiefer: Yeah.
Clark Field: But, I don’t know, taking the percentage wise, you know, if might be people that have the jobs are exceptionally smart and talented, which seems to be true very often. As far as if you take the percentage I would doubt that.
Commissioner Kiefer: Okay, thank you.
Clark Field: Yeah, okay.
President Abell: Mr. Field, what years did you work in this business please?
Clark Field: ‘84 to ‘99. I left, I was hired in April and I left shortly, it was a little over 15 years.
President Abell: You worked here for the Human Relations Commission in Vanderburgh County?
Clark Field: City-County, yeah.
President Abell: Thank you.
Clark Field: Thank you all.
President Abell: Mr. Melcher? Jeanie Downey.
Jennie Downey: Good afternoon, Commissioners. I’ll be brief. Everybody is talking about the sexual orientation, gay, lesbian, transgender identity, but there’s a huge part of our community that are disabled that are also included in this. Whether you guys realize it or not, you currently are discriminating in the way of public transportation against those with disabilities. The unemployment and underemployment rate nationally for people with disabilities is about 75 percent, compared to those that are working. You currently don’t run the Mobility, the METS Mobility is a prime example. It doesn’t run after 4:00, Monday through Friday in the county, and it doesn’t run at all on Saturday. If we can find a business willing to hire us, we can’t really go in and say, well, we can’t work on Saturday because there’s no public transportation, we can’t work after 4:00 because they’re not going to hire us that way. We have more businesses coming into the county which gives us the opportunity with those businesses to possible get hired, but without the ability to, and accessibility to those jobs, to their education. Even coming from the county to an event downtown, if it’s in the evening you can’t go to the Ford Center if you live in the county, because heaven forbid we should actually want to spend our money and be tax paying members of society. We need to be included now, not, well, when we get the money, only if it’s, public transit is not a financial money maker, but it does put people back in the community where they’re paying taxes into the county. They’re spending money, they’re spending resources. Affordable housing, which is also the disability accessible housing, a lot of us are moving out to the county, but you have to be able to get to the basic amenities, to your doctor’s offices. Unfortunately, the county would see fit to run a regular route al the way up to Ameriqual where there’s able bodied workers, as opposed to the areas increasing the numbers of mobility vans and disability routes so people can actually get there. So, I urge you to pass this ordinance and include everybody, including those with disability who want to be a part of our community, who want to be included now.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Shiloh Ditzer:
Shiloh Ditzer: My name is Shiloh Ditzer. I was born two months premature with cerebral palsy on an Apache reservation in Arizona. I’m also biracial. My mother was full blooded Apache, and my father is white, and finally I’m bisexual. There’s a lot going against me in this world for sure, but it doesn’t matter. We each have to play the cards we’re dealt in life and make the best of it. The opposing side brought up an interesting point during the last meeting. This is a quote from the previous meeting that I would like to read to you. “Homosexuals have committed an abomination and they shall surely be put to death.” Seems very matter of fact, don’t you think? Let me offer some dissenting viewpoints regarding the above statement. Leviticus, a book contained within in the Bible appears to be quite direct on homosexuality. In the King James version, chapter 18, verse 22 is translated, “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is an abomination.” Yet, in chapter 11, verse 10, it also forbids the eating of shellfish, stating, “But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales, among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you.” Chapter 11 also bans the consumption of several other animals as well. Now, I would like to ask you how many of you have ever eaten at Captain D’s or Long John Silver’s? Does that mean because you ate at Captain D’s you’re going to go to hell? I certainly hope not, that seems a bit harsh. I personally love their country style fish myself, but, anyway, shifting gears for a moment, I would like to tell you a bit about my Native American heritage. A few hundred years ago members of the tribe who were considered to part of the homosexual community were not looked down upon. Instead they were often respected and treated as special. Sometimes they were given the name “Two Spirits”, because they embraced both their masculine and feminine sides and were not judged, but exalted. This next issue is very serious, so I’ll choose my words with as much respect and tact as possible. There was a time in my life when I tried conversion therapy and to “pray the gay away”. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking of course, that someone in this very room used to be a pedophile and molest teenage boys. Does that mean now because they have claimed to have “have found Jesus and be forgiven”, that they shouldn’t be punished to the full extent of the law. Victims of pedophelia often have repercussions of their abuse for years to come, often seeking medical treatment and counseling long after the abuse has stopped. Under the current laws, this pedophile would be afforded equal protection, but I would not. Does this seem right? I’m not saying once a pedophile, always a pedophile. What I am saying is this, a pedophile, even if reformed, should be held accountable for their past crimes against children. Perhaps someday they will be, when they stand before their higher power on judgement day. I want the LGBT youth of today to know they are loved, and it does get better. I’ve been there on the verge on the suicide for years, because I couldn’t rectify my religious upbringing with my sexuality. I had to come to a place within myself of self acceptance instead of self hatred. I don’t believe that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would rather see me dead or sent to hell simply because I play for both teams. My God teaches love and only love. As long as your heart desires to spread His message of love and salvation, that’s all He wants from you, to love and follow Him. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Dick Connolly:
Dick Connolly: Thank you for allowing me to speak this afternoon. My name is Dr. Dick Connolly. I’m a 40 year resident of the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County. I’m also a professor at the University of Evansville, and a member of the University’s Faculty Senate. This past week the Faculty Senate passed the following resolution in support of the proposed ordinance before you. The ordinance was passed on April 3, 2012, which was this week.
“The Faculty Senate of the University of Evansville wishes to express its support for adding age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to the Vanderburgh County Human Relations Ordinance. Non-discrimination on the basis of all these categories is already the long-standing policy at the University of Evansville. We are an institution of higher learning that believes that questions of diversity and inclusion are not problems to be managed, they are essential components of our success. We all are enriched when each of us is given a chance to be the best that we can be, without facing any arbitrary impediments. We urge the members of the Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners to join the City of Evansville in passing these modest, but meaningful changes to the county anti-discrimination ordinance. Doing so would send a strong message that this community stands firmly against discrimination that harms our neighbors and our fellow citizens.”
I would like to add two personal notes to this statement. While he was a graduate student, my son’s graduate school advisor at Stanford University, a distinguished biological scientist, went through a sex change. His, now her, decision was a very difficult one. However, her decision was made less traumatic because of the support she received from her church, and especially her students and colleagues at Stanford. Of particular note is the support she received from the university administration, committed as it was to protecting her rights and her distinguished career. That she was provide proper support and counseling was due, in no small measure to the role of then Provost of Stanford, Dr. Condoleeza Rice. My uncle, long dead, was gay, and struggled with his sexual orientation his whole life. While in many ways he left a blessed and successful life as a banker, father of two adopted daughters, and community leader, his struggle was not made easier by the ignorance and intolerance of those times. You can imagine how old I am, so guess how many years ago that was for my uncle. Please don’t, people don’t choose their sexual orientation, or their sex, or their gender identity. It is a basic principle of justice that we not discriminate against persons for conditions over which they have no control, especially when those conditions have no bearing on their abilities to perform their jobs or execute their duties and rights of full citizenship. Hoosier values should not be ignorance and intolerance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Sandra Hoy:
Sandra Hoy: My name is Sandra Hoy. I too was born and grew up in Evansville, and now live in downtown Evansville. My husband and I have 19 grandchildren, 16 of whom live in Vanderburgh County. So, we also have a vested interest in the future of this community. During the Reverend Phil Hoy’s testimony at your first hearing, he said what is generally accepted by the scientific and medical communities, that we are born with our individual sexual orientation and gender identity. That it is not a choice that can be altered at will. The next morning I read in the newspaper that a man in the audience protested, “No, God doesn’t make mistakes.” How do those who oppose the changes to Vanderburgh County’s civil rights ordinance explain children who are born neither male, nor female. I would like to testify today about something that hasn’t been discussed in any length before in these hearings, and which might help people understand that sexual preference and gender identity depend on multiple genetic factors. A good friend has given me permission to tell the story of her niece who was born looking perfectly female. It was not until she developed a hernia and has surgery at age two that it was discovered she actually had an undescended testes. On further investigation it was found that she had XY chromosomes, the normal male chromosomes. She also had a vagina, but no uterus. This condition is now called androgen insufficiency syndrome. Children born this way are of the male sex, but their gender identity is female. Many of these girls are not even diagnosed until puberty when they don’t develop female secondary characteristics. They are usually given female hormones at this time. They are never able to bear children, but they normally get married to men and have normal female sex lives, although they are chromosomal males. There are other children born with sexual characteristics that can’t be determined, and the doctor delivering the child has to tell the parents, I’m sorry, I can’t tell you if you have a boy or a girl. These children have to undergo chromosomal and hormonal studies before a correct sex can be determined for them. Many of these children require surgery to try to adapt their appearance to the sex which it has been decided they most closely resemble. These children may have partial androgen insufficiency syndrome, or other sexual anomalies. They were described in medical journals as long ago as the 1830's. These people didn’t choose to be born with a different gender identity from their sex. It is now known that sex is on a continuum, without a definite division between male and female, and that gender identity is not the same as sex. Numerous studies have been done that conclusively demonstrate a genetic link. I won’t go into all of those and watch your eyes glaze over and my time disappear, however, anyone who is not blinded by bigotry should acknowledge that our sexual orientation and gender identity are determined at birth. I am not saying that science proves God makes mistakes. I would never call, my gay, lesbian and transgender friends mistakes. What I do say is that God loves all of us, gay, straight or transgender. God expects us to love one another as we love ourselves, and in my religion love is shown by how we treat other people. The least we can do for our GLBT friends, whom the people who oppose this ordinance have claimed over and over again to love, is to give them the same rights the rest of us enjoy. The very least we can do is make this symbolic gesture, because the most this ordinance will allow the Commission to do is to start a conversation about this issue, and perhaps appeal to the conscience of the respondents. I am now appealing to your collective consciences, as well as well as your intelligence in weighing the scientific evidence about how we become the people we are. Please vote to include sexual orientation and gender identity with age and disability in Vanderburgh County’s civil rights ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: The next person is Mary Jo Bennett, but Ms. Bennett, I note that you spoke last time, so we are going on to Chris Brace. Is there a Chris Brace? Chris Brane?
Chris Brace: My name is Chris Brace. I am a junior at USI and I am also gay. The way I see it, if you don’t like me because of that reason, that’s fine. That’s probably your problem, not mine. That shouldn’t be a reason for an equally qualified or less qualified person to get a job over me when I’m out trying to find one, after I’ve worked four years to get a degree and build up my credentials, and, you know, be everything that I can be so that I can support myself. That’s it. That’s all I have to say.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Adam Schaaf. Please hold your applause. We are really trying to get out of here by 5:00 for a City Council meeting. Thank you.
Adam Schaaf: Good evening, Honorable Commissioners, and members of the general public. My name is Adam Schaaf, and I am a resident of the City of Evansville at 319 Adams Avenue. I would like to begin first by reading the text of a letter that I wrote to each of you last week, for the benefit of the general public.
“Good day. Let me begin with a quote from American film legend, Paul Newman. “I’m a supporter of gay rights, and not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities making up a human being, by the time I get through will all of the things I admire about people, the list is so long, what they do with their private parts is the least relevant.” With that said, I am writing to you to urge your support for the proposed amendment to Vanderburgh County’s civil rights ordinance, which would include the addition of protections for age, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation. It is with great conviction that I ask you to vote yes on this ordinance. It is vital to the success of our city, our county, our state and our nation, and not to mention the world, that we love and support one another, not divide and discriminate. The Vanderburgh Commission is on the precipice of history. Our time is now to include protection for all Vanderburgh County residents from injustices of prejudice. In the end we are all human, we are all Hoosiers. We all feel pain, pleasure, fear and conviction. However, not all of us face discrimination. Therefore, it is time to add protections for those of us that do. I fully believe it is a vital function of our government to protect its citizenry, and now is the time to stand at the forefront of our county’s great storied history, to do what is right, and to do what is just.”
Should you have any questions, well, you know how the letter ends. Now with that said, it is clear the most controversial of the above protections are for sexual orientation and gender identity. There are those in the audience tonight who may believe such issues need not be included in such an ordinance. There are those in the audience who may believe that for one reason or another; such issues are not deserving of equal protections, perhaps because they believe they are abominations of nature, or abominations of one religious code or another. I am here to remind you that this great nation was founded on a freedom of religious beliefs. This great nation, this great state, and our great county were founded as a democracy, not a theocracy. To that end, it is my deepest hope that you will indeed cast an aye vote for this ordinance and the above listed protections. On a final note, I did hear someone earlier speak about the agenda of our movement. I would like to touch on that for a moment and what that means to me. The agenda we are perpetrating is that of; tea at noon, redecorating at one, and “Will and Grace” at three.
Adam Schaaf: Again, thank you for your time and attention and for allowing me to speak on this issue.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Neal Biggers. I just don’t take this as lightly as everybody else. This is serious.
Neal Biggers: My name is Neal Biggers, a nearly 30 year resident of Evansville and Vanderburgh County. I’m here to speak in favor of including gay, lesbian people, transgender people in this ordinance. I don’t mean to discount the disability or the age issue, I’m sure there is discrimination there, but I haven’t heard anyone stand up here and say that we should have the right to discriminate against disabled people or older people. I do regularly hear people say that we should be able to discriminate against gay people if we feel we need to, if our religious beliefs lead us to do so. I believe this is really not the place to debate religious beliefs, since our government should not take stands based on religious arguments, especially when those arguments are controversial, even within religious groups. I would point out that a growing number of religious people, churches and denominations are coming to understand the discrimination against gay and lesbian people is not acceptable according to reasonable interpretations and applications of their sacred traditions. Most mainline Christian denominations have adopted policies that do not discriminate against gay and lesbian people in employment or leadership roles, even as pastors or as other congregational teachers or leaders. Yes, even religious understanding and practices adapt to new knowledge about human life and about the world we live in. Our civil laws and ordinances must also adapt to new insights and new realities within the communities that these laws are meant to serve. I ask that we bring Vanderburgh County into the realities of the 21st century and help to put an end to discrimination against our gay, lesbian and transgender neighbors, friends and family members. Ending discrimination only makes our community stronger and safer for all people. Thank you.
President Abell: Sabrina Stewart-Thomas.
Sabrina Stewart-Thomas: Good afternoon, Commissioners. My name is Sabrina Stewart-Thomas, and I’m representing Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Evansville Alumnae Chapter, located here in Evansville. I’m here to read a resolution, but first I would like to give you just a brief (Tape flip) chapter. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is a private, non-profit organization who’s purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. A sisterhood of more than 200,000, predominantly black, college educated women, the sorority currently has over 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan, Tokyo, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Republic of Korea, and, yes, here in Evansville. The major programs of our sorority are based upon the organizations five point programmatic thrust. They are economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health, and political awareness and involvement. That’s why I stand here. The Evansville Alumnae Chapter has been incorporated for 33 years. We’ve worked tirelessly in the community, we volunteer, we raise money for scholarships, and we contribute our time and talents to the betterment of the community. Our members are employed throughout the city and work as teachers, physicians, attorneys, politicians, business executives, and business owners. We are a sisterhood called to serve, transform lives and impact communities. Today, on behalf of the women of the Evansville Alumnae Chapter, we are 22 members strong, and you see us throughout the community, I would like to read a resolution. It was passed on March 3, 2012.
“A resolution of the Evansville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated in support of human rights and equal opportunity for all people. Whereas, the Evansville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated recognizes the fundamental equality of all individuals, and thus strives to ensure equality of opportunity for all. Whereas, the Evansville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated continues to proactively uphold an environment of respect, dignity and mutual understanding among diverse groups and individuals, via education, dialogue and community activities. Whereas the Evansville community supports a standard of equitable practices and fair treatment toward every individual, regardless of demographic characteristic or background. Whereas the Evansville community strives to be as inclusive as possible, and supports the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission’s ordinance, passed by the Evansville City Council, to include not only race, sex, color, religion, national origin, but also disability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. Whereas, the revised ordinance was passed reflecting Evansville and its civic leaders progressive path to equality for all. Be it further resolved, that the Evansville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated promotes human rights and equal opportunity and welcomes all people and values their contributions to the community of Evansville, Indiana.”
It is signed with our president, myself, our vice-president, all of the executive committee, as well as the members, and I would like to present this to you. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Jeff Wilhite.
Jeff Wilhite: I’m Jeff Wilhite. I’m a lawyer and I represent, my practice is limited now to representing the larger, multi-family apartments. I represent most of the larger ones in town. So, I do a lot of fair housing defense, not only in Evansville, and I teach fair housing regionally and now starting to teach nationally. I’m here really just with a couple of questions for you all to think about and get back with us later. Actually, it’s not founded on sexual orientation or gender identity. My first question for you to think about is on age. The ordinance, the proposed ordinance, as written, in five or six places clearly states that you are making age a new protected class in housing, which may be your wish. I get the sense from some other discussions that in housing that may or may not have been the intent. So, I would just encourage you to talk about whether there was any difference in your mind between employment or housing, or talk to staff or David Kent there, because as written it clearly applies to housing also, which may be your intent. But, if it is, to clarify that, because when there was news of the city ordinance, I got lots of clients calling me telling me that they would then need to end their senior discounts. So, one quick teaching point would be, if there’s a protected variable, like religion, for example, then in housing you can’t use that as a variable good or bad. You cannot have a community of all atheists. Or, if your family status, whether you have kids or not is a protected variable, then, you know, I advise my clients all the time, you couldn’t have a community where you have only kids. So, the issue to think about later is, in housing, is age a variable that you want a landlord to consider or not? Which may be your intent, but that’s one question that a lot of my clients are asking. A second change I saw in your proposed ordinance, is the current county ordinance says that if a prospective tenant, or a current tenant falls within one of these protected classes, like their religion, or sex or national origin, we cannot consider that as a factor at all. So, if I had eight good reasons to deny someone to live in my apartment, but one, seven were great reasons, like, you know, felonies and bad credit and all that, but if one of those eight reasons was their religion, that would be a violation of the current ordinance. The proposed ordinance changes that, and says that it’s only a violation if the protected variable is solely the reason. Which would invite, so, I’m not sure this is the intent, but it would invite the argument that if I had eight good reasons to deny somebody, and only one of them was an improper reason, so, the distinction between the current law, which is we cannot discriminate if it’s any factor at all is changing in this ordinance, that it’s only, it would only now be illegal, even for the current protected classes like religion and sex and all that, as currently drafted, as I read it, now in the local ordinance it would only be illegal if that’s the only reason. My last just FYI, on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, there’s a new HUD rule that’s only been a permanent rule for a matter of several weeks. This is not a Fair Housing law, but it’s a close cousin. For any property, including in Vanderburgh County, that has any HUD monies at all, so there is a new LGBT rule. It’s not a Fair Housing rule, but it’s a program compliance issue. So, many landlords that either receive Section Eight vouchers would be covered, we have tax credit properties, any property that has a HUD federal insured loan is now governed by this new rule. It’s only a few weeks old, and the new rule says that if you have any of that HUD involvement at all, that now you cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and it actually adds marital status. Just as an FYI.
President Abell: Thank you. Kurt Jourdan.
Kurt Jourdan: My name is Kurt Jourdan. I live on the west side, have my whole life, or most of it. So, I also have a vested interest, and so does my dog. I don’t have any kids, and he’s for the ordinance by the way. I just have a few things that, personal things that I’ve encountered. First is that I volunteered my time for a year for this community to work on the consolidation proposal that’s going on the ballot this year, and my sexual orientation never played a role in my work there. Every day in my full time career at Central Dispatch my sexual orientation never plays a role there. I do work every day to protect and serve the citizens of this community, and all I ask for in return is to be treated with respect and for you to help protect my God given rights. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Jordan Whitledge.
Jordan Whitledge: Good evening, Commissioners. My name is Jordan Whitledge, and I’m the President of the student body at the University of Southern Indiana. In that role I get to represent the 10,820 students there. Our Student Government Association legislative body actually passed a resolution in support of the county amendment. It reads:
“Whereas the Student Government Association represents all of the students at the University of Southern Indiana. Whereas the USI student code of conduct states, “as a student right each student has the right to be free of discrimination, including harassment on the basis of sex, religion, age, disability, national orientation and sexual orientation.” Whereas the Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners is considering an amendment to the county code to protect against age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Whereas the City Council of Evansville passed a similar amendment to the city code at the end of 2011. Whereas discrimination is never an acceptable practice. Now, therefore, be it resolved the Student Government Association at the University of Southern Indiana supports this amendment, and resolves that the Student Government Association calls for the Commissioners of Vanderburgh County to stand with their constituents and protect their rights.”
There should have been a copy sent in the mail. I hope you all received it. If not, I brought extra copies with me today that I can distribute to you. Being an elected official, the citizens of Vanderburgh County bestow upon you the obligation to protect their rights, be it whether gay, straight, however old they are, anything. In any situation it is not bad to further their rights. So, I ask that you support this amendment. Thank you for your time..
President Abell: Would you leave a copy with the secretary please? Stephanie Day.
Stephanie Deig: I just want to thank you all for your time first. I know it’s a long couple of meetings for you, and I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to all of us. I’m sorry, my name is Stephanie Deig, and I live in Vanderburgh County, 4024 Rose Avenue, Evansville, Indiana. I am in support of this amendment. It is easy for the voice of a majority to drown out the voice of a minority. It is your job as County Commissioners to protect all citizens and their right to exist equally, regardless of yours or others personal belief systems. This is a quote from John Adams, which I feel like is quite relevant in this situation. So, I would just like to read it to you; “Government is instituted for the common good, for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people, and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men. Therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government, and to reform, alter or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.” Everyone in this room has something to gain from creating an anti-discrimination code which is more inclusive. Point in case, please look at the demographics of this room. Not to be offensive, but you guys are really old.
President Abell: Ma’am you can keep your personal jabs at us to yourself please.
Stephanie Deig: It’s not personal.
President Abell: We’re here for a serious meeting. Thank you.
Stephanie Deig: Okay. I do apologize if you were offended by that. It was a joke. Please use this moment to guide our county in the right direction. The future prosperity and development of the city, county and state depend on it. Do not allow injustice to prevail and others civil rights to be infringed upon. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Della Sandage.
Della Sandage: Hello, my name is Della Sandage. I am a full time student here in Evansville. I’m at Ivy Tech, and I’m actually a student of Rob Kerney’s. I want to speak on behalf of not only just the gay and lesbian community, but I would like to speak on behalf of the elderly and the disabled. It’s not so much as that it may or may not be inappropriate to give special consideration to these sub-groups or minorities, it’s a simple fact of history that the sub-groups and minorities within this country have been denied a fair shake. It’s, St. Augustine said that, an unjust law is no law at all. Therefore, it is my right, if not my duty to rebel and to protest and to speak on behalf of the cause. A lot of people, you know, forget that from 1946 to 1964 were the baby boomers that brought about 70 million American citizens. At this point, the earlier end of the spectrum, they are becoming our elderly. They do make up, or did make up 70 million births in a 20 year span. They need consideration. The disabled need consideration. They need someone to give them a voice, to give them power, to make them feel welcome. The gays, and the transgender, the LGBT community, they need to know that our treatment and our cause and our dedication to this community actually matters. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Kirstin Ethridge.
Kirstin Ethridge: Hello, thank you for letting me speak. My name is Kirstin Ethridge. I’m 17 years old. I go to Mater Dei High School, I’m a senior. Once I graduate I plan on attending the University of Evansville. I love Evansville. I want to stay here. I want to work here. I want to give what I can to this community. I have a vested interest here. I plan on having a family here, but if I am discriminated against in the work force, in my education, I will not be able to stay here, and I want to. I want to be a functioning member of this society, but I have rights. I refuse to have my rights refused, if that makes any sense. See, a lot of people have been discriminated against, back in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s day it was because of race, and now the major focus is on the LGBT community, of which I am a member. I am intelligent, I have a high GPA, I will be taking difficult courses at the University of Evansville. I have a lot to give to this community, and so do so many of my friends, but, unless we are protected, unless we get the same education, the same right to work as our relatives and friends who are not LGBT, then what’s the point of living in Evansville? It’s a wonderful community. I don’t want to leave, but I need my rights, and so do my friends. Thank you.
President Abell: Erica Fahrlender.
Erica Fahrlender: My name is Erica Fahrlender. I live in Vanderburgh County on 1407 Howard Street. I would like to thank you for your time. I know these meetings can be drawn out, so I’ll try to make it quick. I would like to remind this congregation that it is not just sexual orientation, or gender identity that is the issue here today. It’s also disability and age. I ask how secure would you feel in your job, at your age, no matter what your age is, mind you? If you lost your ability to walk, see or hear otherwise, where would you look for work? There’s no one in this room for whom this ordinance wouldn’t cover. We will all be old eventually, no matter who we are. I have a friend of differing gender identity who has been raped, but didn’t go to the authorities about it because they were afraid to be mocked for who they are. Thanks to that type of discrimination there are rapists walking free on the streets. I could be next, your children could be next, anyone in this room could be next. Can anyone be sure that that man didn’t kill the next person he violated? How would one sleep at night knowing they could have just allowed the death of an innocent person because they sided with discrimination, knowing it could have been prevented. I would also like to address the gay agenda argument. I would like to ask where that leaves people who are born intersexed, that this nice lady brought up recently. There are at least 30 different types of intersex, people born just the way God made them. Where does that leave them? In closing, I would also like to thank the people who quoted that gays should be put to death, I would like to thank him for being an example of why this is necessary. The right to pursue happiness should be everyone’s right. Thank you very much.
President Abell: Thank you. Melinda York.
Melinda York: Hello, my name is Dr. Melinda Roberts-York. I am a criminal justice professor at the University of Southern Indiana. I want to thank you, County Commissioners, for allowing me to speak today. I speak to you today from a place of deep concern. If you choose not to make these amendments to the county’s Human Relations ordinance, you very well may create a new type of relationship between the government and individuals. If you choose to state that certain individuals are unworthy to be treated fairly, and that it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against them, especially in regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, this will not only promote individuals to withdraw their participation in the community, but it only serves to perpetuate our failed obligations to one another as human beings. We should be fostering a community of inclusion. Congress defines a hate crime as one in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim because of his or her actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation. A study conducted by the UCLA School of Law reports that people are discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity just as much as those discriminated against because of race and gender. In my own personal research I’ve determined that there are, on average, five reported crimes that could be classified as hate crimes due to sexual orientation in Vanderburgh County each year. But, I am confident that there is a much higher rate than this that simply goes unreported but I have not yet been able to research. Furthermore, people are discriminated against in terms of employment, and I think when we look at this ordinance we have to look at the definitions and “perceived” is an important word in this ordinance as well, because many arguments that I attended the last meeting and heard referenced the Bible and stated that homosexuality is a sin and so forth, however, this ordinance also protects the Christian heterosexual person who’s denied a job because someone perceives them to be homosexual, because a female is just a little bit too masculine, or a man is just a bit too effeminate. People should be judged based on the quality of their education, their experience or their work abilities, not on whether or not they don’t think men should be wearing pink shirts or listening to Elton John. We need to be a little bit careful about that. Many people have spoken today that they oppose the ordinance because they don’t discriminate already, but I think that kind of makes their point moot. The U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy concluded in the writing of the majority opinion in Roamer v. Evans, and I quote, “ If the Constitutional conception of equal protection of the laws means anything, it must be at the very least mean that there is a bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest.” Therefore, this urges me to ask you not to harm these groups, but to protect them from discrimination. Thank you.
President Abell: We have five additional people who came in late. We are going to allow you to speak, but you only have two minutes each, because that’s as much time as we can give you. Aaron Mauck.
Mary Jo Bennett: Madam President?
President Abell: Yes.
Mary Jo Bennett: Also, I think you said I spoke last time, but I had my name on the list, but I had to leave before (Inaudible). Mary Jo Bennett.
President Abell: We’ll allow you two minutes. We are running out of time.
Mary Jo Bennett: Thank you.
President Abell: If you have something, if you don’t have something new to offer, you might want to reconsider, because we have some questions we have to ask. Go ahead.
Aaron Mauck: Hi, my name is Aaron Mauck. I would first like to thank you for giving me the time. I did write a speech that was supposed to be five minutes long, so, I’ll just shorten it and basically thank you. I’m a supporter of civil rights across the board. I actually applauded you, Ms. Abell, whenever you initially addressed the crowd at the meeting in December that you wouldn’t allow any law to be passed without hearing from both sides. It didn’t bide well with the people that I was with, but I nonetheless agree that whatever conclusion is reached will be met with greater validation this way. So, I appreciate you giving the time for people to speak. You know, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, to me, I’m a heterosexual, white, male, American who believes that nobody, whether you’re African American, Asian American, female, lesbian, gay, transgender, we’re all citizens in this community. I do believe that we all bear the same rights to any civil treatment, and I think we should be protected, as is your job to do so, as elected officials. Like I said, I had a lot to speak about, but I’m going to go ahead and cut it off at this point just to say that I’ve said my piece.
President Abell: If you would like to leave that with the secretary–
Commissioner Melcher: Yeah, I was going to say, since you’ve wrote it out we could take it.
President Abell: Thank you. Julie Evey-Johnson.
Julie Evey-Johnson: Hello, I’m Julie Evey-Johnson. I’m a full time faculty member at the University of Southern Indiana in the Department of Psychology. Very quickly, I find myself disappointed that in the year 2012 we even continue to discuss whether discrimination is acceptable behavior, but, at the same time, I am very encouraged that the City Council, after deliberation, passed a similar measure, and that you’re gathered here to consider doing the same thing. As an educator in this community, and a parent, I simply cannot understand how we can allow such blatant discrimination to continue. I hope you have the courage to make the right decision. American law should never be based on an individuals moral or religious beliefs. The foundation of American law is justice, fairness and tolerance. That is not the homosexual agenda, that is the American agenda. We need to speak up when we see injustice, because it affects all of us. Such injustice forces us to raise our children in a biased and bigoted society. It tells our children that such behavior is acceptable. It certainly is not. The decision made should be about what is right and what is fair. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Julie Pyle.
Julie Pyle: Hi, my name is Julie Pyle. I’m a resident of Evansville. Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group. I wish I could claim those words as my own, but I can’t. I’m simply borrowing them, because Coretta Scott-King spoke so eloquently on this topic that there’s really no room for improvement. Honestly, I don’t like the term homophobic, it seems to give a free pass to those who subscribe to it. Phobic makes it seem like they are simply afraid, and not hateful, but it really is hate. Homophobia is the last safe refuge, the last politically correct outlet for this type of persecution. The truth is these bigots have every right to hate homosexuals, but they should not, however, have the right to act on that hate, by actually persecuting members of the LGBT community. Unfortunately, this is what happens, and that is why this ordinance is needed, and needs to include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected groups. Even if you want to deny science, which seems to be trendy these days, and believe that homosexuality is a choice, it doesn’t matter. Religion is a choice and everyone is protected from discrimination based on their choice, or choice to opt out of religion, as it should be. So, should it be for sexual orientation and gender identification. There is no secular reason to deny equal protection against discrimination to members of the LGBT community. Thank God we are not in a theocracy. If we are to deny legal protection due to someone’s interpretation or misinterpretation of religious texts, we will have to deny that same protection to those who choose to eat pork or cut their hair on the sides of their head. It is absolutely shameful that in the year 2012 we have to debate if human rights extend to all people. If equality, justice and freedom can be given or taken away based on the whims of the majority, then none of us can really know equality or justice or freedom. Those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual contribute to our community every day. They work, pay their bills, pay their taxes, fall in love, care for their families and friends, raise their children and volunteer. Yet they do so without the protection against discrimination that the rest of us enjoy without a second thought. We should think about it, because freedom taken for granted can be easily lost. Finally, to those in the so called Christian community who believe they speak for all of us in their crusade against the gays, please stop. You don’t speak for all Christians. There are others like me who choose to be Christian, yet choose to not misuse our faith as a weapon of mass discrimination. I am fortunate to have found an open and affirmative church where all people are valued, and my heart fills with joy at the love that God has for all of us. A love that is visible through acts of kindness and inclusion–
President Abell: That’s two minutes.
Julie Pyle: I feel pride when we recite the affirmation of diversity. Thank you. I hope you’ll do the right thing.
President Abell: Thank you.. Marjorie Kough.
Marjorie Kough: Thank you. You got it right, my name is Marjorie Kough. I live at 901 Jobe’s Lane, Evansville. I also prepared a five minute presentation, which I would be happy to leave with you. I’m going to skip some of this though in terms of time. We’ve heard a lot that has been very emotional in nature about this, and one of the things that I came away with from the last session, at which I did not speak, was that there was a lot of concern about children. I think that we will probably see a lot more parents accompanying opposite sex children into restrooms for their protection if this is passed. But, I just want to also say that there were some confusions over whether or not religious organizations are exempt from this, from discrimination or standards that are different that these ordinances would be addressing. One of the concerns I have is that specifically, as to whether or not the Human Rights Commission can take action against organizations of a religious nature. I have suggested some wording, is changing to address that, so it specifically says in the ordinances that religious organizations are exempt. Finally, the one thing that I would like to say is that the, in the proposed amendment to section 2.56.070, limits the Human Relations Commission’s authority in respect to complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to accepting complaints, notifying respondents, and attempting voluntary investigation and mediation. My question is, why adopt changes to any ordinance without the intent to enforce them? Why waste taxpayer’s money on something–
President Abell: Your two minutes are up.
Marjorie Kough: – not backed by the courage of conviction. From my skeptical point of view, the only reason I can see for such a limitation, is so that later when the heat is off another amendment can be quietly drafted and passed that gives enforcement powers. To me assurances that the proposed changes will not be enforced is like the fox telling the farmer to go back to sleep–
President Abell: Ma’am, that’s two minutes.
Marjorie Kough: –so that the fox can be trusted not to watch his chickens.
President Abell: Thank you.
Marjorie Kough: Thank you.
Commissioner Melcher: Do you want to drop that off right up here?
President Abell: Wayne Harris. Who was that other woman that was wanting to come up to speak?
Commissioner Melcher: Mary Jo Bennett.
President Abell: Then, Mary Jo, you can come up for two minutes when he finishes. Go ahead.
Wayne Harris: My name is Wayne Harris, I live at 5088 East Sherwood Drive, Newburgh, Indiana. I pastor Christian Tabernacle Church, 1051 Washington Avenue. I’m here because I would like to explain why I feel the way I do. I hope I can do that within the allotted time. Thank you. I would like to address, preached my first sermon when I was, about 1981. So, I feel very strongly about the book called the Bible. The world is more complex than what it was years ago, in 1961 remember how the freedom writers went south. We were just dealing with removing a sign that says, “white only” or “colored”. We were dealing with lunch counters where you sit or not sit, but it’s become more complex now. So, that’s why I go to the Bible to try to give me some guidance when we have hard answers. Very briefly, we look at the Old Testament, before the law and after the law. Before the law you have a record in Genesis, chapter 18 and 19 where God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, because he condemns the sin, part of which was homosexuality. Let’s go with after the law, and we spoke into this, Leviticus 18:22,”though shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, it’s an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13, “if a man lies with a mankind as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death.” So, we understand what God feels. Now, as a preacher I’ve got to deal with all that’s coming forth in society, but yet I have to remain faithful to that book called the Bible. We should note that the law was not given to everybody, it was only given to the children of Israel. That’s why you don’t see some laws over in the New Testament that says though shall not wear a garment of (Inaudible) sorts as of woolen and linen together. As mentioned the law was given to the children of Israel, and for us in the New Testament, Christ is the end of the law. But, we understand the spirit, we understand what God’s attitude is because we read the Old Testament. We go to, in the New Testament we see the Old Testament scriptures do condemn homosexuality. Romans 1:26, the Lord speaks of vile affections. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, I’m almost through, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind...and such were some of you.” Well, why should I be concerned? We all have a stake in the moral climate of our community. When the Bible speaks so clearly, I cannot remain silent. I have a responsibility to respond to laws that challenge Biblical views on morality. I am not here to disrespect or to offend, but to articulate what the Bible says on this sensitive issue. Someone said our laws are not based on the Bible, perhaps that is true, but one thing is for sure, we can always vote based on the Bible. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you, sir. Ms. Bennett.
Commissioner Melcher: Did you want to leave your documentation with us?
Wayne Harris: I sure would.
President Abell: Ms. Bennett, please make it two minutes. I see the City Council standing outside waiting to get in here.
Mary Jo Bennett: Thank you for seeing me. Mary Jo Bennett, 345 Plaza Drive. I would just like to say that I did not know until my daughter was 17 that she was a lesbian. I expect that there are people in this room who are presently against the proposal who would change their minds later and be for equality when they find out that their children or their grandchildren are gay. People expect the County Commissioners to stand up for all of the citizens. Citizens are citizens, and all deserve the same. Justice is justice and should be for all citizens. So, I vote for the ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Fellow Commissioners, do you have any questions that you want to pose to anyone? Mr. Kiefer?
Commissioner Kiefer: Sure, I just, you know, appreciate everybody being here today and all of your comments. Regarding the ordinance, under section two, under “reasonable accommodation”, may include making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities. Could, Mr. Kent, could you address that, what you mean by “reasonable accommodations”? I know you give, making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible. I just wanted to check to see if that means like, you’re a small business person, you have say two or three employees and you have stairways.
David Kent: Well, we’re basically, that falls in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act, in terms of following along.
Commissioner Kiefer: So, just, as long as you fall in line with ADA, it’s acceptable?
David Kent: Correct, that’s correct.
Commissioner Kiefer: Okay, that’s all I needed, I thought maybe that’s what you had, but I didn’t know if you meant more than that.
David Kent: I understand.
Commissioner Kiefer: Okay, thank you.
Commissioner Melcher: I’ve got one question at this point. When you wrote this, you wrote this as a voluntary.
David Kent: Correct.
Commissioner Melcher: Other communities wrote it with teeth. What made you go one way or the other?
David Kent: The ability to make it pass.
Commissioner Melcher: The ability to make it pass?
David Kent: Yes.
Commissioner Melcher: That’s interesting.
David Kent: To be brutally honest with you, you know, I’m a lawyer. I do my job without pride nor prejudice. I’m brought something, I’m told to do it, I do the job to the best of my ability. We had discussions with regard to should you go stronger, ie: Indianapolis, should you go with a voluntary, in terms of Ft. Wayne? When it comes down to the reality of the situation, we live, in our community, we’re in southwest Indiana, we also have to deal with the realization as to whether or not the ordinance will pass. Therefore, that is how we, myself, the Executive Director, the members of the Human Relations Commission decided to take the tact of then we need to go in a voluntary nature, not just to tell everybody in our community that, hey, you should not discriminate in this area, but we also understand that we have a great number of people who are against that. Therefore, we have to judge and deal with the realities of what we have here, not in Indianapolis, not in Ft. Wayne, here in Evansville, in terms of what we have, what we can get through both the City Council and through the Commissioners in terms of actual passage.
Commissioner Melcher: Okay, did any of the City Councilmembers, I don’t think the Commissioners did, but did any of the City Councilmembers bring any issue up of which way it should be?
David Kent: None.
Commissioner Melcher: So, your board took it on your own?
David Kent: Well, in fact, this actual ordinance was actually drafted in 2009 and circulated, and it was determined at that time that from a realistic standpoint that the votes were not there to even bring it to the table. We were approached by members of the City Council that they wanted to bring this, and they wanted to bring it to a vote as it was written in 2009.
Commissioner Melcher: Okay, that’s what I needed to know today.
President Abell: I have some questions. I do find it disturbing that you’ve been working on this since 2009 and not one member of this Commission was asked for any input, sent any heads up, given any questions. Had we not had these public hearings, we wouldn’t have known any of the information that we’ve heard from both sides. I would challenge you to never try to write an ordinance to come before this Body again without including one of the members in that discussion.
President Abell: I do have a question, and, actually since there’s not going to be enough time, I would ask that you, and also Mr. Beauman, is he still in the audience? I would like for the two of you to write to me and give me an answer to this. On March 26th there was an opinion rendered in the State of Indiana, U.S. District Court, regarding plaintiffs’ lawyers having to pay for frivolous lawsuits that have been brought. I want to know that if a lawsuit is brought on the basis of this ordinance, does the Human Relations Commission have your own funding to pay for your defense? Or are you going to expect the citizens of Vanderburgh County to pay for your defense? You don’t have to answer that now. I would like to know what your status is going to be, because I am concerned that we are providing, at this point, with an ordinance that has no teeth, the ability for an attorney to bring a lawsuit, and for someone else to turn around and say, the ordinance had no teeth, it was a frivolous lawsuit and now we’re going to sue Vanderburgh County. I, as many have pointed out, was elected to represent all of the citizens of Vanderburgh County. That means all of the taxpayers, and whether or not they need to pay for a frivolous lawsuit. So, I would like to have, I would be happy to give both of you my e-mail address for you to respond to me as to how that would be handled in the event that were to occur in Vanderburgh County. Thank you. Any other questions?
Commissioner Kiefer: Yeah. Mr. Kent, I, obviously, heard a lot of passionate pleas to pass this ordinance based upon personal experiences. Are there some, do you have some statistics, I mean, I usually deal better with things that are more objective and not so subjective. You know, for example, when we look at doing traffic signalization or whether there’s so many accidents that occur at a certain place, we can look at statistics. Do you have some statistics that show, you know, that, hey, we’ve had 250 complaints because, we couldn’t act on them, but we had these number of complaints. I mean, do you have some, do you catalog and record statistically so we can understand the gravity of your concerns and problems?
David Kent: It is my understanding, and I think Diane might be more apt to answer that question, it’s my understanding that no statistics were kept prior to going forward with this ordinance, in terms of, as Mr. Field’s was up and testified that when he was an investigator or ran Human Relations that he got several complaints in this area.
Commissioner Kiefer: Right, and that’s what prompted it, because when I asked him if he said numerous, he said, no, no, not numerous.
David Kent: I know that there have been some, I do not know the number since it has passed the city. I do not have that information, but I can get that for you, but it’s my understanding, I don’t believe that there were statistics kept prior to that.
Commissioner Kiefer: I would like to have, if you’ve got something since that ordinance has passed, I would like to have some statistics, because I would like to understand the gravity–
David Kent: Sure.
Commissioner Kiefer: –of the concern. You know, like I said, something that makes it more objective helps out. Thank you.
President Abell: Mr. Harrison, did you have something?
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Mr. Kent, could you check on Monroe County? In the overview that you provided–
David Kent: It does not list Monroe.
Joe Harrison, Jr.: Yeah, it’s not listed. Could you supplement that information for me? I would just like to know what it includes and whether there’s any teeth in that ordinance as well. Thanks.
President Abell: I made a list.
Commissioner Melcher: Backing up on what Joe said, since this was wrote in 2009, I didn’t even think about this until Joe talked about it, has the Human Relations Commission tried to keep track since they wrote it till today?
David Kent: I do not, I am not aware of that.
Commissioner Melcher: Because that would have been, if I was on the board, I probably would have asked for some back up, you know, so something to associate, I know there is out there, but it would have been nice, like Joe said, to have had some numbers. Okay.
President Abell: Commissioners, any other questions? This meeting is adjourned.
(The meeting was adjourned at 4:52 p.m.)
Those in Attendance:
Marsha Abell Joe Kiefer Stephen Melcher
Joe Harrison, Jr. Marissa Nichoalds Madelyn Grayson
David Kent Bryan Beauman Monte Fetter
Michael Harris Glyn Pfohl Rob Kerney
Jim Bratten Clark Field Jennie Downey
Shiloh Ditzer Dick Connolly Sandra Hoy
Chris Brace Adam Schaaf Neal Biggers
Sabrina Stewart-Thomas Jeff Wilhite Kurt Jourdan
Stephanie Deig Della Sandage Erica Fahrlender
Melinda York Aaron Mauck Julie Evey-Johnson
Julie Pyle Marjorie Kough Wayne Harris
Mary Jo Bennett Others Unidentified Members of Media
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Marsha Abell, President
Joe Kiefer, Vice President
Stephen Melcher, Member
(Recorded and transcribed by Madelyn Grayson.)