BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
HUMAN RELATIONS ORDINANCE PUBLIC HEARING
MARCH 19, 2012
The Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. in room 301 of the Civic Center Complex with President Marsha Abell presiding. 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 entitled City-County Human Relations Commission.
Call to Order
President Abell: Good afternoon. I would like to call to order the public hearing on the ordinance amending Chapter 2.56 of the City-County Human Relations Commission. We would like to have the Pledge of Allegiance first.
(The Pledge of Allegiance was given.)
Attendance Roll Call
President Abell: Madelyn, would you call the roll 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: Before we get started, we need to determine exactly how this is going to be handled. So, I want to give you some instructions. Those of you who are out in the hall, you can either still come in, or I understand they have the loud speaker turned on outside, and they also have the televisions going if you would be more comfortable out there, but you are certainly welcome to come in and stand on the side of the room if you want to. As you know, you have signed in if you wish to address this body. We had two different sign in sheets going around, one in favor of the ordinance and one opposed to the ordinance. The reason for that is that we are going to take a few of the ordinances that are in favor, a few speakers in front of the ordinance first, and then switch over to a few opposed and go back to a few in favor so that no one group dominates the entire conversation this evening. Your talks should be limited to three minutes. We will not be so rude as to cut you off, however, at five minutes we will be rude enough to cut you off. We would ask that you hold your applause and booing to a minimum. It just takes time out of the testimony. We have a lot of people that want to speak here this evening, and we do have a limited amount of time, so, it would expedite things if you would not show your pleasure or displeasure, because it really doesn’t affect the way the three Commissioners address this issue anyway. So, it would be a waste of your time. We are going to start with having the Human Relations Commission give us a brief description of the ordinance. They are here, the Director, Diane Clements, Diane, do you want to raise your hand up so they’ll know you’re here. She has a board member with her, she also has, their attorney is here. They can answer questions for you. We are not here to answer questions. We, those of us up here, we didn’t write the ordinance, and we feel they’re more capable of answering any questions you may have. You will be allowed to address questions, if you have those. With that, I will turn it over, Mr. Dion, are you going to handle this first? Okay. Please when you go to the microphone, give your name for our record. Thank you. Oh, and I would also like to know if you’re a Vanderburgh County resident.
Human Relations Commission Overview of Ordinance Amendment
Robert Dion: Robert Dion, I live at 3839 Hartford Place, live in Vanderburgh County. Good afternoon, Commissioners and good afternoon everyone. Pardon my back. I would like to start out by thanking President Abell for having this forum. It’s always a good thing when government leaders hear from their constituents, and when citizens know what decisions are being made by their government. We welcome this opportunity to explain exactly what it is that we’re proposing to you, and we look forward to clearing the air somewhat about what it will and will not do. It’s our hope that we can dispel some of the rumors that have been circulating about these proposed changes to the county ordinance, because my guess is that there are people on both sides of this issue who have something of an incomplete understanding of exactly what this proposed ordinance can and cannot do. Now, I know that the main idea this afternoon is for you members of the County Commissioners to hear from concerned members of the community, but my hope is that we can do a little more than that today. I hope that we can all take this opportunity to really listen to each other and try to understand the concerns being expressed here by both sides. As I look around this room I don’t see enemies or adversaries, I see neighbors, people who live in the same community. We may have a different outlook on all kinds of things, but we’re all just trying to make our way in this world. In the end, we really have so much more in common than anyone might imagine. Just a little bit of sensitivity and compassion, especially for people we disagree with, can go a long way in making this a better place for all of us to live. In fact, that’s essentially what the Human Relations Commission is all about, trying to promote harmonious relationships between all of the groups in our community. We were formed in 1948 for this very purpose, and our work continues today. I’ve been asked by President Abell to say a few quick words about the Human Relations Commission, and I’m glad to do so today. There are 11 of us in all, and we are all citizens of Vanderburgh County. We are appointed by the Mayor, the City Council, the County Commissioners and the County Council, and we serve at their pleasure. We come from all different backgrounds, male and female, city and county, black and white, gay and straight, Republican and Democrat, older and younger, Catholic and Protestant, but we all share one, common purpose, advancing the idea that all citizens deserve to be treated with fairness and dignity and respect. I’m very proud to have served on this Commission and to serve with my fellow commissioners. They are to a person dedicated, conscientious and good-hearted, and they take their positions very seriously. All of our meetings are open to the public, in this building, usually on the second floor, and any person can obtain copies of the minutes of our meetings. We pride ourselves on being scrupulously fair in all of our proceedings. If you have been the victim of discrimination, we will go to bat for you to see to it that your civil rights are protected to the fullest extent under the law. If you have been unfairly accused of discriminating, we will defend your good reputation to the very best of our ability. I know that some people are here today because they’re worried that the Human Relations Commission is going to infringe upon religious liberty in the county, but let me make this clear, we don’t have the power to infringe upon religious liberty. We’ve never had the power to infringe upon religious liberty, and we don’t seek the power to do so. If anything, the Human Relations Commission is your very best friend when it comes to protecting your religious liberty. If you believe yourself to have been the victim of discrimination, stop by our office on the second floor, and we will do everything in our power to help you. If your goal in coming here today to this public forum was to stop the Human Relations Commission from infringing on religious freedom, you’ve already gotten your wish. We can’t do that, and we would never want to do that. Last year the City Council unanimously adopted some changes to the Human Relations ordinance that added “age”, “disability”, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to our civil right code. When they did this, Evansville joined Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne, Bloomington, Michigan City, Lafayette, West Lafayette, along with Marion County, Monroe County and Tippecanoe County in passing a more expansive and inclusive civil rights ordinance. The vote in the City of Evansville last November was a bi-partisan one, and that was exactly as it should be. Civil rights should never a matter of party politics, they are a matter of human dignity and fairness. Just like here in Evansville, when West Lafayette amended its ordinance in 2010, it was because the Republican Mayor was working closely with the Democratic President of the City Council there. In fact, there’s not much that Barack Obama and Governor Mitch Daniels agree on, but Mitch Daniels in 2005 issued an executive order protecting all State employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and one of the first things Barack Obama did as President in 2009 was to do the same kind of executive order for all Federal employees. We don’t see enough of that kind of cooperation and agreement these days, but I think it’s something to be applauded. What we’re asking for here is a very modest, but meaningful step forward for this community. I know that some of the things that we’re talking about may sound unfamiliar or worrisome to some people, but there’s really nothing to worry about. Other cities in Indiana have already adopted similar language in their ordinances, and some of them have done this almost 20 years ago, and they haven’t disappeared from the Earth or descended into anarchy. In fact, there are currently 16 states that have passed state-wide civil rights laws protected both sexual orientation and gender identity, and taken together these 16 states represent 45 percent of the American population. Indiana is not one of those states, but almost half of Americans already lives under a state-wide civil rights law that does more than what we’re asking for here today. The first city to ever pass an ordinance protecting people on the basis of gender identity passed it in 1975, for heavens sake, so, we have a long history of settled law and best practices to help our commission in implementing this. We have a staff of trained investigators and mediators. We’re not making it up as we go along. Because we’re not perfect, which is obviously true, in the event that we do get it wrong, in one case or another, there is always the fail safe that every single one of our judgements can be appealed in court. You will get a fair hearing. I teach American Government for a living, and one of the things that I love about America is that we have made great strides over the years toward recognizing the worth of every person and promoting greater tolerance and understanding, and respecting the right of each individual to be free from discrimination. I talked to my mother about this, because I’ve been thinking about this forum for awhile. My mother’s not very old, she’s in her 60's, but we used to live in Alabama and she remembers when there were water fountains intended for “colored people” and “white people”. It was as recent as 1967 that the last laws outlawing interracial marriage were overturned. It was as recent as 1975, which always surprises me that the Supreme Court finally decided that it was unconstitutional for a state to exclude women from jury duty in 1975. It took us awhile in America, but we ended all of those discriminatory practices, and when we did it was good news for those who had been victims of discrimination, but it was also good news for everyone else, because we all benefit when people are given a chance to be the very best that they can be and be judged based on their merits without any arbitrary impediments. When the time comes for you to vote on these proposed changes to the ordinance, I hope that our County Commissioners will continue this forward progress and open the door to freedom just a little bit wider, as other communities in Indiana have done before us. We on the Human Relations Commission believe deeply that it’s the right thing to do and it’s the right time to do it. That’s all I have to say for now, but right now I would like to yield the floor to a very dedicated, professional of whom I’m proud to work with, Executive Director of the Human Relations Commission. As President Abell said, we’ll both be here for the duration of this forum, along with our attorney, David Kent. So, in the event that there are questions, specific legal questions, we’re more than happy to address those. Thank you very much for your attention.
Diane Clements: Good afternoon. Well, I think he’s just about said everything. I guess that’s the risk of coming after a college professor that does this for an hour without taking a breather. We did attempt to make changes in the Human Relations Commission ordinance to strengthen our enforcement in the area of public accommodations, employment, housing and education. We did add definitions just to make those changes, or the enforcement that we thought we already had, more evident. We did fashion those changes after the Ft. Wayne Human Relations Commission ordinance, in large part, but as Dr. Dion did state, we do follow Bloomington, Ft. Wayne, Lafayette and Indianapolis. Indianapolis, as he did indicate, has a more expansive ordinance, where our ordinance is, in essence, voluntary investigation and voluntary mediation. Indianapolis does not have that option. So, they do actually implement the most expansive type of civil rights law in Indiana currently, and they have not ever been challenged. But, I just would like to say, again, we are here to promote equal opportunity in public life, and this effort to include gender identity and sexual orientation, of course, has been the most, I guess, controversial of the changes that we have here, but this did not start with my tenure here. These changes pre-dated me, I remember actually reading about it in the news, but, I think, that there have been commissioners that have tried to bring these protections into the Human Relations Commission ordinance for some time. Just to give you just a brief history of the Human Relations Commission, we go back, again, to 1948 under Mayor Dress, and became defunct until about 1965 under Frank McDonald, Sr. It was the year after the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and also it was some concern about an inactive Human Relations Commission. It’s been said, I think, the pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, the Reverend Charles King, who was also the second president of the Indiana, I’m sorry, the International Association for Official Human Rights Agencies, helped to move that forward or advance having human relations, or human rights on the local level. The first director was also hired in 1965, and each director it seems as though different things have been added to the enforcement. The first director was Joan Byers in 1965. The second director was Janet Walker, and that was then staff was added. The third director was Donald McNary, under his tenure the commission obtained enforcement and subpoena power. The fourth director was Jacqueline LaGrone, under her leadership jurisdiction was obtained in the county. The fifth director was Floyd Edwards, under his direction was the expansion of the fair housing awareness campaign. I happen to be the sixth director, and under my tenure we’ve been able to obtain funding through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and also HUD. We are a FEPA agency, as well as receive certification to become a substantial equivalent agency in terms of investigating housing complaints. So, this work continues to move on and advance. We also provide administrative support to the Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, as well as the Evansville Advisory Board on Disability Services. But, back to this didn’t begin with this, my office particularly, but I think it’s in the spirit of being welcoming and being inclusive to all people. The Human Relations Commission is also a member of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies, and the mission is to foster human and inter-group relations, enhance human rights practices under the law, promote civil and human rights around the world. During those trainings or conferences that both Dr. Dion and I generally attend annually, there are numerous trainings and resolutions offered by an aura that promote non-discrimination for sexual minorities in public policy. The Human Relations Commission is also a member of the Indiana Consortium of Civil Rights Organizations, which is a professional civil rights organization in which the mission is to promote equal opportunity, non-discrimination and good human relations with regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual, I’m sorry, socioeconomic status, disability and other immutable characteristics. It’s also worth noting that in January of 2012, HUD Secretary, Shawn Donovan, announced new regulations to ensure equal access to housing for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and that final rule is available, and also very much a reason why we thought that this was a very topical thing to do. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights just recently published a report focusing on government efforts to enforce civil rights laws with respect to peer-to-peer violence faced by students and made the recommendation that the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice should track complaints that they receive regarding harassment based solely on sexual orientation that are closed for jurisdiction otherwise. So, again, this is new frontier in the area of civil rights and human rights that I think that most civil rights organizations have already made this amendment to their missions, and, therefore, we think that it’s something that we need to do on the local level as well. Again, it’s also important to say that we do recognize that there are religious freedoms, being able to express your religions that respect any type of change that we’re making here today. I think that the law anticipated that and some of the frameworks that are set up to make sure that there are checks and balances and that people’s religious rights can be expounded upon at any time during this public hearing to ensure that people’s religious freedoms are going to be respected, however, there is also that tenet that you have to respect other people’s beliefs or the belief, not to believe, that is a belief as well. So, we have to co-exist in this community, and I think that’s why we’re here today. I think that it’s great that all people feel, the Human Relations Commission doesn’t often get audience, so we’re a little bit excited about it so people can hear a little bit about what we do. I think in the final analysis we have to co-exist in this community and learn how to work together in the spirit of inclusion. I’m here to answer any questions.
President Abell: Thank you, Diane. Since you’ll both be around for questions, I don’t think the Commissioners have any questions right now. We’re doing to let the general public speak, and if we have questions we’ll address them at the end, okay.
President Abell: I’m going to take three speakers from each side. First we’ll start with the opposition side, Robert Jones. Mr. Jones, I would like to remind you that we would like to have you speak about three minutes.
Robert Jones: Not 20 like–
President Abell: I’m sorry?
Robert Jones: Sorry. Thank you.
President Abell: Please give you’re name and address.
Robert Jones: Yes, I’m Bob Jones, and I’m Executive Director of Fresh Word Ministries, operating office at 5425 Oak Grove Road, 47715. I do live in Vanderburgh County. I want to thank you for saying the Pledge of Allegiance. One thing that touches my heart, you did “Under God”, and that’s what my testimony here and statement is. I’m a veteran of the Navy, and I was a store manager for a major tire corporation for 11 years, 25 years as an insurance and investments, and presently started this ministry 11 years ago. I work with over 1,200 sexually and relationally broken people and their spouses for over 11 years, and I’m a 501C3, not-for-profit organization on this faith-based ministry that I draw no income from. I live my live as a born again Christian. I believe the Bible is the inerrant and uncompromised Word of God, and to my best I imitate Christ in all that I do. I personally feel that every person the Lord God created has value and worth. We are to judge those actions, as well as our own, as clean or unclean, righteous or unrighteous, but only the Lord will judge our heart and soul as well as everyone else’s, according to Revelation 19:2. God’s law is a higher law than the law of the land. The Bible states that the Lord God made man and woman in His image in Genesis 1:26 and 28, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiple, Genesis 24, pardon me, Genesis 2:24 says that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and they shall be of one flesh. That’s what we call the marriage bed in the Christian community. One man-one woman and that God’s law, which is perfect and clean. That’s where we Christians are to live our life, clean and righteous, in and through Christ. We are to be imitators of Christ, outwardly and behind closed doors. People need to realize what the agenda is of the Evansville gay community’s intent. It is to capture the young and the old into a lifestyle or an acceptance of their identity. Nationwide they are attempting to capture, all the way down to kindergarten and pre-school, grooming these beautiful, innocent young children into same sex lifestyles. California is a great example, following Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey. Locally this gay community’s actions we should evaluate here. Is it headed towards clean or unclean, righteousness or unrighteousness actions? We Christians stand on our Lord God’s law. Here’s some of the activities according to the webpage supporting and aiding residents dealing with HIV afflictions. That sounds very kind-hearted and compassionate. This same organization is handing out free safe sex kits to people that have same sex activities. Is that clean or unclean? But, according to the Center of Disease Control scientific proof shows that a very high degree of failures of condoms as STD’s penetrate the pinholes and pass STD’s potentially. Science proves that the safest is abstinence to prevent the HIV, not promotion of same sex activities. I ask you to judge their actions. Again, every person has value and worth, and we are to judge these actions. According to Leviticus 18:22, though shall not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is an abomination. The activity is an abomination, not the individual, but the activity is an abomination according to God. Leviticus 20:13, if a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, and that’s what we Christians refer to as homosexuality, both of them have committed an abomination and they shall surely be put to death.
President Abell: You have 30 seconds, sir.
Robert Jones: The blood shall be upon their head, and we Christians understand that that is unclean, unrighteous actions, but God will judge their soul and their spirit. Furthermore, in the Evansville gay community offers, the organization have Saturday night pizza parties and games for school age youth, recruiting them to assemble, the safe sex kits that have condoms in them, and they give those condoms to these youth.
President Abell: Mr. Jones, that’s five minutes. I’m sorry.
Robert Jones: Okay, Beverly Holt, I believe is yielding her time to me.
President Abell: No, sir. I’m controlling this meeting, not you. I’m sorry, that’s it. No one yields their time. This isn’t Congress. I’m sorry. You’re finished. Martha–
Robert Jones: May I give you a copy of the rest of this?
President Abell: You may, yes. Martha Stout is the next speaker.
Martha Stout: Martha Stout, Vanderburgh County, 1318 East Boonville-New Harmony Road. I’m not a public speaker, so I’m gonna have to have notes. I’m sure this is going to be an emotional evening, but for myself I don’t think we should base our laws or ordinances on emotion. We must think whenever we do a mandate, how is this going to affect this side, how is it going to affect this side? Then we might hear, oh, but we’re doing it for the good of the community. Where do we hear that in history? About the petition, when I was reading through it, and on my page when I printed it out it was page four, gender identity, it states, a person actual or perceived gender related attributes, self image, etcetera, etcetera, you can read that. I thought that was rather odd. I mean who gets to decide whether it is perceived or actual? Am I supposed to make the perceiving? Is the other person making the perceiving? I can’t imagine why the lawyers let that kind of verbiage go by, but, I think, and as the gentleman said before me, the real truth here is not a campaign for equal treatment in society. This is an agenda to eventually force society to accept homosexuality as a normal and acceptable behavior. Let me give you a direct quote from The Overhauling of Straight America, by Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill.
“Our campaign should not demand direct support for homosexual activity, but should instead use anti-discrimination as its theme.”
Our society has been played on by the use of anti-discrimination to silence Christians or anyone that expresses concern over homosexual behavior. Another argument I hear about gender identity is if you support civil rights you should support homosexual rights, because they’re the same thing. Voters and government officials are buying into the idea that the sexual preference of homosexuals deserve the same legal protection and support as the political rights of racial minorities and religious groups. The error in this thinking is that homosexuality does not meet any of the three basic criteria for legally protected minority status; immutable characteristics, economic hardship and political powerlessness are those three. Homosexuality is a matter of behavior, not genetics. I had old figures for per capita income, in 1991 it showed that actually the homosexual household might be more. Then I ran in, the latest I found was 2008, and it said that that playing field was more or less equal now, but still if it is equal they cannot complain economic hardship. As for political powerlessness, the homosexual lobby is currently one of the most powerful in Washington, D.C. Then I had a thing on the Human Relations Council, I went into the website, and you find very little there, you don’t even find the people listed that are serving on the commission. I did call the phone number and the lady there was very kind and she gave me the name of the people on the board, or commission, but one thing that was disturbing is she said there’s a two year appointment, but they can be appointed over and over and over. I think that is something that needs to be addressed. I mean, that can be a power base, or anyone that has an agenda can stay on that board. I was told that, well, if I looked under the Mayor’s office I might be able to find more about the Human Relations Commission. If that’s true, it should be on the Human Commission’s website. So, I am strongly urging you to oppose adding sexual orientation and gender identity. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. The next speaker is Berniece.
Berniece Tirmenstein: Berniece Tirmenstein, 1636 East Blackford Avenue. I am opposed to the proposed ordinance. I have a big issue when the Human Relations Commission has so much power when they are not an elected body, they are appointed.
President Abell: Thank you. The next speaker will be from the, those people speaking in favor of the proposed ordinance. The first speaker is Kelley Coures.
Kelley Coures: Greetings. I’m usually here begging for money for the Old Courthouse, which I will be doing shortly because the scales of justice fell off one of the sculptures. Just to let you know that that’s coming, and, put to death, really?
Commissioner Melcher: Can we go ahead and fix the flag pole too so we can hang a flag?
Kelley Coures: Yeah, there’s several things that I’m going to need money for. So, I need you to go ahead and like look at the checkbook and see what you have extra out there.
Commissioner Melcher: Sure.
President Abell: That would be zero. Would you give your name and address please.
Kelley Coures: Kelley Coures, I live in Vanderburgh County, 12320 Kenai Drive. Luckily, I’ve known every one, almost everyone at this table for many, many years. Marsha Abell I’ve known, well, I’m not going to tell you how many years that we go back, but I am probably the luckiest person in Evansville. I’m probably the luckiest person in Evansville. I’m very lucky because I’ve had friends like Marsha Abell, and Joe Kiefer and Joe Harrison, Jr., and Steve Melcher in my life, all of my life. I’m probably the most visible, other than Wally, probably the most visible gay person in Evansville. I write the On and About Town column in the Courier and Press every Sunday. I’m so lucky that I have that job, because I get to meet everybody in town, whether it’s someone who would like me or someone who doesn’t like me, whether it’s a visitor to Evansville, whether it’s a newcomer. I get to meet everybody, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. It’s a wonderful opportunity that I have. I love it. Someone asked me one time when you guys appointed me to the Old Courthouse, as President of the Old Courthouse Foundation, they said, well, did they know you were gay when they did that? I said, well, unless they’ve all had lobotomies in the last six months, yeah, I guess they do. But, of course, I support this ordinance, I supported it when the City Council was considering it, I support it now for a variety of reasons. I support it, you know, the City of Evansville, you know, and you talk about, you mentioned the youth group, gay and lesbian teens are five times as likely to take their own lives, because of pressure, because of condemnation, because of bigotry and hatred and bullying. They are five times as likely as other teens. We see it over and over and over. That youth group was started and managed by adult facilitators who are screened very, very carefully, those kids are wonderful. A lot of my kids, one of my kids are here tonight. Where are you? A lot of my children are here, and I call them my children, because I love every one of them. The City of Evansville now recognizes GLBT people in their ordinance. It’s unenforceable at this time, but it’s still recognized. That’s a good thing, because it recognizes their humanity. It recognizes their humanity. Civil law recognizes their humanity. Even though it’s unenforceable, it’s a ray of hope. It’s a ray of hope for these young people that the government, their politicians, the people that are elected to office recognize they exist as humans in the community. One of the things that happens to a gay teenager who’s facing all that pressure and all that...I’m the luckiest person in the world because Marsha knew, Marsha knew my stepfather, my late stepfather. She knew him, she worked for him. Her first job in Evansville was for him. I was raised by the most compassionate, wonderful people that you could ever have in your life. When school, when bussing first started, when racial bussing first started, my mother who is in a nursing home now with Alzheimer’s, my mother rode those busses every morning, because white parents were throwing rocks at the school busses as they came east with the black children to the east side. My mother and several other mothers went downtown every morning and stood in those school bus doors to stop people from throwing rocks. My parents never put that kind of pressure on me. They let me develop into the person that I am today, for good or bad, whatever you want to think. My mother’s first husband, his father was a Jew. As a Jew he could not have bought the house that I grew up in on the east side of Evansville. I was born in 1959, and until 1964 the deed to that house would have prevented him, a Jew, from buying that property. It said in that deed, no person, and I still have it, no person, not of the Caucasian race or the Christian faith can buy this property. It says that right in the deed. So, religious freedom has its price. My grandfather came to the United States from Europe in 1935, he just barely escaped, barely escaped sure annihilation with my father as a seven year old child. I see the great diversity of this city, and I love Evansville. I love every crazy person in it, some who want to put me to death, if that, so be it. I was asked by several friends to pass along their comments as well, the first one is; “I believe the greatest gift we can give one another in this life is the opportunity to earn a living wage, to work and live as equals. Please support the Human Relations Commission changes tonight, so that areas in the county will match the progress made in the city.” That’s from Gail Riecken, State Representative, District 77. “Our rabbis teach us that we are to behave toward others as we wish them to behave toward us, all being equal, no matter race, age, abilities or orientation. There is no room for bigotry in a civilized society.” Rabbi Helen Bar-Yaacov, Temple Adath B’nai Israel.
Commissioner Abell: Kelley, you’ve only got ten seconds.
Kelley Coures: Susie Kirk, please add my name to the list of citizens who support the county adopting the same Human Relations Commission ordinance, a good Republican. I thank you.
Commissioner Abell: Thank you, Kelley.
Lindsey Fehribach: Hello, my name is Lindsey Fehribach. I live at 5123 Chadwich Road in Evansville, Indiana. I am a current resident. What I want to say to you today is I am in favor of this ordinance, because I am a student, I am spiritual, and I am gay. I am all of these things, but not everybody accepts me for that. That’s okay, but I think they should. I’m really nervous right now, I’m sorry.
Commissioner Melcher: Just take your time.
Lindsey Fehribach: Okay, and I have been very much treated as an outsider during my entire life, and I think that should stop. Thank you.
Commissioner Kiefer: I just want to congratulate her on having the courage. I know, I could see she was a little bit nervous. Appreciate you coming up and making your comments.
President Abell: Thank you. We are now going back to the next three–
Unidentified: (Inaudible. Microphone not on.)
President Abell: No, I’m sorry.
Unidentified: (Inaudible. Microphone not on.)
President Abell: I skipped over you?
Commissioner Melcher: You only had two on that one.
President Abell: Oh, I see, somebody had scratched your name out, or Michael Harris was in there and you wrote over it.
Unidentified: (Inaudible. Microphone not on.)
President Abell: He isn’t here, but he signed himself in?
Unidentified: (Inaudible. Microphone not on.)
President Abell: Okay, Jon Barrell.
Jon Barrell: I should have gone before Kelley, because he’s actually 14 days younger than I am. I just wanted to say thank you for saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the very beginning too, because without God and a belief in Christ and my church family, I would never have been able to live my life as I choose. I’ve had the pleasure of going to the Human Rights Commission, and because gender identity and sexual orientation is not included in the county, or the city at that time, all they could do was just make note of it. At that time that I wanted to file a complaint about being discriminated against, I had to go to Indianapolis, but, as a good commission they were willing to listen to me and listen to what I had to say and what happened and make due note of it, but could not do anything to help provide me the protection of being discriminated against. I’ve been out and proud for over 39 years. I first found hatred when I was 18 years old and a senior in high school. That’s kind of why to me that the youth group is very important. I’ve been a foot soldier for the, for gay rights and civil rights for over 39 years. Why? I was beaten, along with two other people just because, in Vanderburgh County I happened to be in an area that was frequented by homosexuals. What happened after I got beaten, along with the other two people? I was lucky that I didn’t have to go to the hospital, the other two ended up with stitches and cracked ribs. Five individuals who were my age or a little bit older decided they needed baseball bats and needed tire irons in order to say that we didn’t need to be in the area that we were. I completely lost a beautiful 1963 baby blue Ford Galaxy in the process of that because they busted out every piece of glass and tail light and head light that was in there. What happened right after that? Without the help of a stranger who didn’t know me who opened their car door, because the other two people had already ran away bloodied, they opened up their back car door and allowed me to hop in the car. Where did I go? I went to a place that I knew an officer in uniform was standing there. Oh, I’m sorry, they were private duty. I was told by that officer as I stood there all bloodied, that there wasn’t anything they could do for me. That all I had to do was go over to the pay phone and call for help. Well, of course, I was shaking so bad and was so upset that somebody else who was standing there went over and called on the pay phone. An hour later when the officers arrived there was nobody around that they could arrest. I’m still here today, but the reason I was there was because I was a gay youth. I was going where I could be with other people who were my allies and that were just like me. Today, thanks to the Tri-State Alliance, we provide a safe environment for gay youth, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and their allies a safe environment, that they can feel safe without getting beaten or called names or abused. I also had the opportunity to be discriminated by a business here in town. That business chose to record me out of the paper because I was at an AIDS candlelight memorial service on the front page, and chose to take that, and when we did the original for the youth group, did the original news media event telling people that there was going to be a safe event, they copied that and sent copies of it to my employer. Now the Vice President of Operations of the company came and asked me about it. I asked him, why are you asking me? I said, are you asking as a concerned Christian that I know you are? Or are you asking me because you’re afraid I have AIDS and you’re worried about the assets of the company? Of course, Jack said as a concerned Christian that he was. I honestly told him who I was and what I stood for. I’m not ashamed. I’ve lived a great life, I’ve raised five children, I’ve had a partner of many years, and I would just like to see myself treated equal as all of those around us are treated. They talk about providing condoms, I work in a business that provides condoms for the community, and, you know, probably 50 percent of those condoms, those safe sex kits that go out, that keep people from having diseases, or contracting HIV, go to our allies that are in the community. They pick them up as they go out the door because they want to use them as a form of birth control. Well, thank goodness somebody is providing those. One of the nice things that I learned early in my life with my church family, who has always supported me, that one of the first things that you’ve got to do when you live your life is to understand forgiveness. I just want you to know that any hatred you want to give towards me, that I now forgive you and always will. Thank you, of course, I do support the ordinance.
President Abell: Okay. The next speaker is Brenda Bergwitz.
Brenda Bergwitz: My name is Brenda Bergwitz. I live in St. Joe in the county. I wasn’t really going to talk, I was going to yield, but I’ve been sitting there and thinking, I am against this, but, yet, at the same time, I want to tell you people that I’m a child of God just like each and every one of you are.
President Abell: Brenda, you need to speak into the microphone, we’re recording this.
Brenda Bergwitz: I’m sorry, but, anyway, I’m a child of God and I love every one of them unconditionally, I just do not approve of it. I’ve got friends that are gay, lesbian or whatever, but I’m still against it, and that’s all I have to say. Thank you.
President Abell: Betty Polk.
Betty Polk: Betty Polk, I live in the county, in the north side, 414 Hunters Green. I’m opposed to this ordinance because I’m concerned, why do we need a special ordinance when we already have a discrimination ordinance?
President Abell: Thank you. Steven Walker.
Steven Walker: I’m Steven Walker, United States Navy retired, honor to have served, proud to be American and Hoosier. I live at 1111 Cherry Street in Evansville. I come before this council today as a former school teacher and as an advocate for the protection of the school children in Vanderburgh County. First, I believe the passing of this ordinance would place our community’s children at harm during their developmental years while they attend at their particular school. Potentially, the boys and girls will have the choice of using the bathroom of either gender at school. This would violate the privacy of many students who do not want to share the facilities with anyone of the opposite gender. Further, it would stimulate confusion to many youngsters as to what their own gender identity actually is. This is an intrusion by our government in an area of any child’s development that must be the sole responsibility of the child’s parents or guardian. The council must reject this ordinance, or be guilty of violating the gender development of every child in the local schools. In my opinion it is a crime against our children from the passage of this ordinance, and forever, potentially causing adverse behavior in all future adult generations. Inter-gender bathroom usage would also provide for and promote promiscuous activity of our children in the school setting. This could result in criminal prosecution of students, juvenile pregnancy and litigation against the Evansville, or rather Vanderburgh County Council, or Commissioners. In answer to these anticipated problems if this ordinance is adopted would be to abrogate the usage of the gang bathrooms for the boys and girls in every school. To do this would require the construction of individual, private bathrooms in every classroom to ensure privacy and to prevent opportunities for promiscuity. This, of course, would be an exorbitant, unnecessary cost, which I don’t believe the School Board could easily absorb, nor could our taxpayers easily afford this horrible offense to the children of Evansville. Please be careful in considering the passage of this ordinance. Not only would it be necessary to spend a fortune to accommodate a group of people who are not a special class of citizens, nor are they a minority, but only a group of people who have chosen this particular lifestyle. Generations of children would adversely be affected for life. Please protect our children and the county taxpayers by rejecting this ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Wally Paynter.
Wally Paynter: My name is Wally Paynter. I live at 620 North Main Street, downtown Evansville. I am a gay man, originally from Carmi, Illinois. My parents are straight, my brothers and sisters are straight, my neighbors were straight. You know, it was suggested that people are taught homosexuality, I knew in third grade that something was different about me. I didn’t have the internet or anything else, so I couldn’t quite figure it out. As time went on I figured out that gay people existed, and luckily I come from a family that accepts me for who I am. That’s important. I work here in the county, I’m President of the Tri-State Alliance Board of Directors, I am an active member and a committee chair at First Presbyterian Church. I don’t think anyone here speaks for all Christians. So far, what I’ve heard, people don’t speak for me. I do oppose the death penalty for gay folks, just to come out on that one. You know, this ordinance is important, the city has already passed it. Some people have said all of these horrible things would happen if the city passed it. Well, I’ve done some research, I’ve gone to UE basketball games and some Icemen games, you know, and to answer the bathroom question, even though it passed in the city, I can tell you that when I looked at the bathrooms, you know, that the men still knew to go to the men’s bathroom and women knew to go to the women’s bathroom. There was no chaos, it all worked. I hope when people say things that I think, you know, I think they’re ridiculous, I hope it comes from their heart and I hope they’re not just stirring a smokescreen just to stir a smokescreen. The bathroom, I think, is a smokescreen. I spend half of my time living in Evansville, I spend half my time in Carmi, Illinois. My mom has Muscular Dystrophy, you know, and when she’s not doing well, my little sister takes care of her during the day, and I take care of her during the nights. Illinois has this law. In Illinois it’s enforceable. When I go to something in Illinois people still know what bathroom to go to, and that problem doesn’t happen. When I cross, when I spend the night in Illinois and I cross the New Harmony bridge and I lose my rights, I hit Vanderburgh County, still no rights. When I hit Evansville I have some token rights. I asked Dan McGinn, a friend of mine, you know, what should I say tonight? His suggestion was, you know, since this is unenforceable, you know, since there’s compulsory laws and not compulsory, you know, the worst thing that’s going to happen if a complaint is filed against you is the Human Relations Commission is going to call saying there was a complaint, someone would like some mediation, do you want to accept the mediation or not? That’s the toughest thing that’s going to happen. You know, this covers straight people too. It covers straight people if you are perceived to be gay or lesbian, and you’re not, it says, no, you shouldn’t be fired either. A friend of mine who went to my church, Meg Blair, used to own Research Systems Corporation, she was an out lesbian, before this ordinance passed she had the right to ask people are you straight and she could have fired them. She’s a smart business woman, she didn’t do that, you know, but, currently that’s what can be done. You know, when we talk sexual orientation people think just gay, straight is a sexual orientation as well. You know, so this protects straight people just like it protects gay folks. You don’t have to approve of us, you just can’t fire us. People talk about what qualifies as minority and what should be covered. Well, I am a Christian, I go to First Presbyterian Church, and that’s a choice. My religion is a choice. I grew up in religion, but I had a choice whether or not to stay religious. Religion is covered. Churches are exempt from this. A minister can say anything they want against gay folks or against straight folks or anybody else, they’re not going to be arrested, churches won’t be closed down, First Pres I think is one of the more liberal churches in town, but it’s established. It was the first church in Evansville, you know, and there’s no fear, you know, of our minister being arrested for anything he says, or our church being closed down. You know, churches and religious folks are exempt, it just says you can’t fire people. I think discrimination is wrong. The city passed this unanimously, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke supports this. Evansville has not come to an end, and I don’t think Vanderburgh County will come to an end. I think it will say something progressive about us, that discrimination is wrong and we value all of our citizens. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you, Wally. Phil Hoy.
Phil Hoy: My name is Phil Hoy. I live in Evansville at 217 Cherry Street. I want to thank you all for holding this hearing. I have sat in those chairs for 12 years as a County Councilman, and it takes great patience to sit there and listen. I understand that, so, thank you very much. I’ve been kind of amazed so far that the only part of this ordinance that’s been mentioned is, there’s only two parts, sexual orientation and gender identity. It also includes age and disability, in my understanding of it. I just wanted to insert that into the comment tonight, because I’m old and I have lots of good friends who have disabilities they deal with. I’m currently in my ninth year as pastor of a church in Henderson, Kentucky, which back in 1994 said we will consciously be open to GLBT persons. They’ve taken a lot of flack for that, but they also have grown from that. A third of our membership comes from Evansville because they wanted to find a church where they felt welcome. By the way, many of those folks from Evansville are like me, they’re straight, not gay, and married, most of them, and they just want to be affiliated with a church that is open. This ordinance is not going to have a negative effect on religion, as has already been pointed out. Nothing is going to happen. Nobody’s going to go in and arrest a minister who is up there railing against, you know, homosexuality, citing Leviticus. I wish that first speaker had cited the whole Leviticus code, because it talks about piercings and tattoos. It talks about if your kids disobey, in the holiness code, you can kill them. I mean, I just, you know, and it’s contrary to the ten commandments, which we all like to post places, you know, thou shalt not kill. That is ancient scripture, and I don’t know many people who abide by it anymore, except when they want to oppose an ordinance such as this. Churches are interesting, churches accept all of the benefits of our taxes. If the church catches on fire, you call the fire department. The church doesn’t pay taxes for that. Somebody breaks into a church, you call the police. They don’t pay taxes for that either. If the river rises, they don’t pay taxes for the levee, they don’t pay taxes for the street paved in front of them, and on and on and on. It’s kind of interesting the tax breaks that we give to religion in this country. I’m not opposed to that, but it’s something that churches need to be reminded of, and religious folks need to be reminded of is that they’re getting a real, real tax break. Going back to the issue of gay and lesbian people, when I ran for the legislature one year I was called into a meeting at one of our largest African American churches, where my credentials were being questioned running for that particular seat because I’m a white man. It was interesting, I was the only white man in the room. After two legislators, African American legislators came down and said we want this guy, we know his civil rights record, then someone in the back of the room said well, what about your stand on gays? I’ll never forget the pastor of one of the largest African American churches stood up and said, that is not an issue, they sing in our choirs, they play instruments in our services and all of that, and it’s just not an issue and it went away. Now, I know that to talk about gay people as musicians and artists and all is a caricature that is not true across the board, by any means, but I thought it was interesting how that put the caboche on that whole discussion. I did get elected, and then when I went to the legislature, talking about Governor Daniels, I remember when that horrible marriage ordinance, marriage amendment came up, Daniels office was filled with people from Eli Lilly, from Cummins Diesel and other companies as big as those companies are saying, please do not do this because you will hurt our recruiting nationally and we will look like fools, because they wanted to hire people who were gay or lesbian or transgender or bisexual, because they had the skills to fill those jobs, and to do the research sometimes that will provide a medicine that will save my life or yours. We need to move into the 21st century. In my denomination we wear this little comma, we say that don’t put a period where God put has put a comma. God is still speaking. I think we’re going to learn in the near future that gay people and GLBT people, all of them are simply genetically programmed that way, and we’re going to have to admit that we made a mistake. The psychological and psychiatric community have already eliminated this from the diagnostic and statistical manual that they go by. So, I hope that you all will vote the right way on this and include these things in the ordinance, and don’t postpone it. As the theologian, Harvey Cox, once said, “Not to decide is to decide”. Thank you very much.
President Abell: Thank you, Phil. Alex Kessler.
Alex Kessler: My name is Alex Kessler, 1818 Rachelle Lane, Vanderburgh County. I’m going to show off my college student abilities, because this is how good I am at writing papers, because I just wrote my speech while sitting. What this ordinance means to me, all my life I’ve had to advocate for myself. I’ve been told that I can’t do things, because, not based on my ability, but because based of who I am. Nobody has ever looked at my abilities, they’ve just told me you can’t do this because of who you are. Just recently, you know, I’ve made a decision that I’m going to transition from female to male. I’ve known since I was two who I am, but before then, like, I was two and stuff, and I also was afraid, but I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t believe that this, my decision or my transition affects my jobs in any way, and that I’m not able to perform them any less or any better, but I would also say that I think it helps me perform my jobs, because I’m not distracted with my own repressed feelings, so, I’m able to think clearer and do my job that is laid in front of me. Also, I would say that I’m a harder worker, because I have to prove to people that I can do the same job as them, because they don’t believe me because of who I am. I’ve been told that I’m hard to qualify, because I don’t fit in with the norm. So, sorry, usually I’m not nervous, but if you could have told me that I was going to talk in front of the County Commissioners today I would have told you anything but that. You know, throughout this journey I’ve told people, you know, I’m very open about my transition, and I’m not afraid of what’s out there. You know, it’s sad to say that I’m used to everything that I’ve heard so far being said. You know, I can’t tell you that I haven’t heard this, and, you know, it’s sad that I’m only 21 and I’ve heard more than most people my age. I’m also here not to advocate just for myself, but for others that don’t feel like they can say, get up here and say what they feel. I know what it’s like to be silenced and I won’t be silenced anymore. What happened to don’t judge or live to let be? I would have to argue with Kelley as he said before that he feels like he’s the luckiest person in Evansville. I would have to say that I think that I am the luckiest person in Evansville, even though he’s a tad bit older than I am. I’m from a town five hours away from here, and I chose Evansville because this is where I wanted to go to school. I attend the University of Southern Indiana, and honestly it’s the best decision that I’ve ever made. I haven’t made, you know, that many decisions in my lifetime, but definitely coming down here to Evansville has helped me out. In fact, I can be honest and I can look each and every one of you in the eyes right now and tell you that if I wasn’t here, I don’t think I would still be alive. It was the people here that I met that saved my life. The people that I met that have helped me come into myself, the people that, you know, have made me a better person. I wouldn’t have gotten that if I was still at home.
President Abell: You’ve only got a few more seconds.
Alex Kessler: Okay, as stated in the Pledge, you know, justice for all, just not justice for people in certain categories.
President Abell: Thank you. Jeff Day.
Robin Radcliff: I’m Robin Radcliff and I’m going to be taking his place. He has left. He’s ill.
President Abell: Well, we don’t, we haven’t allowed anyone to do that.
Robin Radcliff: Okay. So, is there a list that I need to get on?
President Abell: This one.
Robin Radcliff: Okay.
President Abell: There’s some more of them there. Rod Murray.
Rob Murray: Thank you for allowing me to come and speak. I live at 5801 Shelbourne Road here in the city. I guess I’m a little stunned by the point. When I consider the amendment to the ordinance, I’m concerned most about the issue that seems to be least discussed, and that is the health issue. I run an organization that takes care of youth and teens and young adults. I’ve had to sit with young men dying of AIDS, people who are sick with venereal diseases, and help them get treatment. I guess, what I’m concerned about is whenever we endorse behavior that is inherently destructive we have a whole lot of consequences we have to face. The U.S. Center for Disease Control, addressing the issue of sexual deviant behavior, said that sexual deviancy adds to the already overburdened health care dilemma while encouraging risky and unsafe behavior that causes a myriad of health issues from STD’s to AIDS to physical abuse, rectal damage, colon and rectal cancer, hepatitis and myriad of other health and social issues, costing Americans millions in higher insurance premiums due to the reflection of sexually risky behavior that’s reflected in the premiums. According to the CDC, 82 percent of all known sexually transmitted AIDS cases were the result of male to male sexual contact. Gay and bisexual men account for more than 60 percent of all syphilis cases, shortens the life span of homosexuals by eight to 20 years, depending on which study you are looking at, spreads diseases to innocent people who never engage in sexual deviant conduct. The CDC reports nearly 10,000 cases of AIDS that were spread by secondary contact, blood transfusions or bisexual acts to unaware spouses who were the victims of infidelity. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association reports, lesbians have the richest concentration of risk factor for breast cancer than any subset of women in the world. They have the highest risk for cervical cancer and are more likely to be obese. They use more tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, experience higher rates of bacteria vaginosis and Hepatitis C, have more than twice the number of male partners than heterosexual women, only seven percent who identify themselves as lesbians never had sex with men. They are 4.5 times more likely to have 50 or more sexual partners in a lifetime, three to five times more likely to have sex with men who are at high risk for HIV, homo, bisexual and IV drug users as well. They are six times more likely to abuse drugs intravenously. The average number, according to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the average number of sexual partners in a lifetime for the heterosexual is four, for the homosexual, 50. The University of Chicago’s survey, “Sex in America”, found that monogamy among heterosexuals in 83 percent, but among homosexuals less than two percent. Of the more moderate surveys found, an infidelity of 62 percent among gay couples. This fact led researchers in the Journal of Family Psychology to write, “The practice of sexual non-monogamy among some gay couples is one variable that differentiates gays and heterosexual couples.” There is, I believe, at the heart of this debate a serious moral issue that undermines the very fabric of society, regardless of one’s religious views. Since we understand how legislation and ordinances enacted by government agencies on every level lends validation and normalization to certain types of behavior, both positive and negative, and we understand that we have a responsibility to our children to protect and ensure that they have every means necessary to enjoy the best and healthiest lifestyle possible. Knowing that they, of all people, are the most easily influenced by our decisions and the precedents that we set here. We recognize that our children have already been exposed to a flood of filth and degradation in our society as a whole, unlike any in human history. Teen pregnancy and promiscuity at all time highs. We understand that with shocking results of this type of behavior, record high levels of STD’s, one in five of our teens carrying incurable herpes, teen pregnancy and uncontrolled promiscuity unlike anything in modern history. I understand and we believe that sexual behavior is not a minority status, not a handicap or disability, it is a decision, and our children pay the price with each successive generation building on the last. The question before us today is not how will our children be affected by ordinances that endorse destructive behavioral patterns, but rather how will our grandchildren and their children be affected, specifically the amendment before you now regarding this code and the amendments in the ordinance. Once we open this Pandora’s Box, how do we close it? When do we say no more? What if other sexual deviant minorities seeking to force legislation upon our society that will legitimize their behavior? I implore this council to conscientiously consider striking down any ordinance or legislation that would compel us to endorse that which we know is potentially harmful and fundamentally destructive to our community and our society at large. Thank you for your time.
President Abell: Thank you. Kari Barron. Kari Barron? Robert Barron?
Unidentified: Oh, here she is.
Kari Barron: Kari Barron is here.
President Abell: Kari Barron?
Kari Barron: My name is Kari Barron. I live at 4536 Arrowridge Drive in Vanderburgh County. Like everyone else, I’m standing up here nervous as well. I think that the consensus, for most people, and their belief, their incorrect belief, is that as a born again Christian that we are the epitome of hate. This has nothing to do with hate. What this has to do with, is that as a born again Christian, we, if you are a born again Christian, a person that is sold out and in love with Jesus Christ, you love your neighbor as yourself, but like Jesus Christ we will never, ever advocate sin. We will love the sinner, but hate the sin. I come from a biracial family with a sister that’s biracial that’s 38 years old, I grew up in the 70's in a biracial family in Iowa where there weren’t any biracial families. I think I was the only one. I grew up with a brother that lives as homosexual man, so, I am no stranger to living, I have never lived in a box is what I’m trying to say. What I did find out by reading the Word of God, Jesus Christ’s inerrant Word, is that God never made anyone anything. That we are born into a sinful state, but that we have the freedom of choice, always, every soul on this planet has the freedom of choice to choose Jesus Christ, and He alone will set us free from sin. I’m not isolating homosexual sin as a worse sin that anything else, because if you know the Word of God, He says that lying, or any sin is sin. What I’m trying to express, and I am not an educated woman, I left home at 17 years old and I didn’t pursue an education, so, I feel uncomfortable speaking up here as well. What I can tell you is that I’m no stranger to adversity, I’m no stranger to pain, that I had my own obstacles as a human being to overcome, and that, in fact, I will add that I had, I didn’t have parents, I left home at 15 years old, actually went into the Coast Guard at 17, and I, until my father died, he was never in my life as well, I have a mother that’s still not in my life. So, I understand being alone, I understand feeling isolated and different, I have an understanding of all of the things that the homosexual community has an understanding of. What I want to tell you, that I didn’t learn from parents, and that I didn’t learn from society is this, I learned from the Word of God that he seeks every soul, that every soul no matter homosexual or straight or whatever your plight is, is perishing without, if you are not born again in Jesus, and that the only freedom from all pain and from everything, even though we will have tribulation, is being born again in Jesus Christ. So, my heart is with you. My husband and I preach the Gospel everywhere we go, and we, in fact, we took a boy into our home that lived as a gay man, and he won’t be the first, but what we did with him was we told him the love of Jesus and the freedom in Jesus Christ, and that he can be free in Jesus Christ. That none of us on this on planet has the, I’m not saying monopoly, no one has a monopoly here, no one has, everyone has the freedom to choose whatever they want to choose in this life, but I’ll tell you the only freedom that is worth anything is being free in Jesus Christ, because any obstacle or anything in your life that you need to overcome, the only power that you’ll be able to overcome it with is with the love of Jesus, and that’s by being born again, and that’s by saying no to sin and yes to Jesus. No matter what it is, only Jesus Christ can free us, and I’m telling you, the Word of God, if you know the Word of God you know that we are in the season of His close return. He is coming sooner than we all expect, and there’s only one way to God, that’s through Jesus Christ. I know also that He says this, that His Word is foolishness to those who are perishing, and I would beg you in the name of Jesus to choose Jesus Christ and be born again, and say no to sin and yes to Jesus.
President Abell: Ma’am, that’s your five minutes. Thank you.
President Abell: Please do not applaud.
President Abell: We are not applauding or booing. Robert Barron.
Unidentified: He’s not here. I’m sorry.
President Abell: Charlene Braker.
Commissioner Melcher: I would suggest that when you’re up at the microphone you don’t have to try to turn around to see anybody, because sometimes when you’re doing that it won’t get on our tape. We’re recording this. It’s also being televised, and there’s a camera here that’s picking you up and picking up all of the audience at the same time. So, it would be clearer on our tape and everything if you would just face this way and talk, and everybody would be able to see it. Thank you.
Charlene Braker: Thank you. My name is Charlene Braker, 1700 East Blackford, and I am from Vanderburgh County. I hope I’m not on a secondary plane, because I don’t personally know Marsha, I mean, I know you, but not personally. I know Joe, I know Steve, but I don’t know you all personally, and I’m not running for any political office. So, I hope that puts me on a level plane with everybody else, but I also want to say that I forgive everybody too. I mean, I believe Jesus is the judge, not me. Homosexuals are not an issue at the church I attend, they’re just invited to know Jesus as their Savior. So, I’ve never been to a church that that’s been an issue. I think that’s out of the question. I agree, I do not see enemies or adversaries here, I just see my neighbors, but my children and my grandchildren also needed to be able to be treated as themselves, with dignity and respect, therefore, I oppose this ordinance on religious convictions. Please maintain private male and female bathrooms, that’s going to be an issue no matter what anybody says, if this would go through. Please don’t remove this moral stop sign. Thank you.
President Abell: Caitlin Woolsey.
Caitlin Woolsey: My name is Caitlin Woolsey, I live at 6201 Twickingham Drive, Evansville. I just came here to tell you that I am in favor of the ordinance. I think it’s not a question, people keep bringing up sexual orientation and gender identity, but it’s not, the ordinance is not just covering those things. It’s covering disabilities, whether physical or developmental, and it’s covering age as well, and I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind, that it’s not just one issue, there are four things that are being voted on. I’m a devout Catholic, I was raised that. I have a conviction in that. I was raised about the love of God, the forgiveness of God, not the fear of God. I think that’s important that everyone realizes it’s about love and forgiveness, not judgement. That’s it. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Eliot Colin.
Eliot Colin: Hello, my name is Eliot Colin, I live at 327 Southeast Second, Evansville, Vanderburgh. Contrary to popular, to the assumption, let me start over. A lot of people have the false assumption that I was born and have always been female. I am not. For the past five years I have been living full time as male, and in that time I have used many a men’s restroom and never had a problem. That said, I work at the Evansville State Hospital, so, I am a State employee, and I am up here speaking because I can, because I can come out as being transgender and know that my job is not at risk, because I am protected, because Mitch Daniels says I am. I feel like if it is good enough for Mitch, then Vanderburgh is good enough too. Thanks.
President Abell: Thank you. Amie McKibban.
Amie McKibban: Amie McKibban, 1210 Corregidor Circle, Vanderburgh County. Good afternoon, Commissioners. First and foremost I want to thank you for taking the time to hear our stories of support today. I’m going to start by introducing myself and explaining my role in this community, as well as the tri-state at large. Again, my name is Amie McKibban, an assistant professor of psychology at USI, and an activist with and for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. As part of that role, I have founded and directed a tri-state-wide safe zone program, with a vision of fostering a socially just community through support, visibility and activism. I have trained over 250 people in this area, as well as led several activities on our campus. It is within this role I hear stories. I hear lots of stories from individuals from the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. I hear stories of male couples being refused to be served at restaurants. I hear stories of lesbian couples being openly made fun of at hospitals when going in to get treated. I’ve heard stories of verbal harassment at local establishments, stories of discrimination on the job while transitioning genders. I’ve heard stories of name calling and neglect at the hands of law enforcement, and stories of assault. I’ve heard stories of strength and courage. I’ve heard stories of support and love, but it isn’t the details of these stories I want to tell you about today, Commissioners, I want to remind you and the community at large that rights and protections of people should not be at the discretion of the mood of the day. Nor the whim of pop culture. The civil rights and protections of a minority group should not be at the whim of the voters, and I’m glad this is not the case today. It is to that end that I want to remind you, Commissioners, that the vote, excuse me, that the role of a democratic government is to protect the common good of it’s people. The freedom to file complaints of discrimination based on age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity is essential to that common good, and, we, Commissioners, are your people. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Molly Greene.
Molly Greene: My name is Molly Greene. I live at 1311 N. Elliott, Evansville, Indiana. I am opposed to this ordinance based on my, not religious convictions, but my relationship with God. I know there’s other issues in here, the age, but the homosexuality, that’s what I’m against. According to God’s Word, a little leaven leaventh the whole lump. So, thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Keith Hoeftle.
Keith Hoeftle: Commissioners, thank you very much for this time. I had a dream–
President Abell: You need to give me your name and address.
Keith Hoeftle: Address? 2104 Bayard Park Drive, zip, 47714. I had a dream, I really did. I actually had this dream the other night that geographic names were changed. Lake so and so was now called April Hendricks Bay, and the question rolls in the dream, now, how will people know where they are? Then I woke thinking, there are many Hispanics moving to the area, as a gesture of friendship to them we could change all the street and building names to Hispanic names, but then that would confuse everyone. People would all wonder where they were, even the Hispanics who have been here awhile. Do the renamers really realize what they’re doing? I was actually hoping there might be several times to come up to the microphone, so I had three little particles written. I really would like to answer a couple of people here, but maybe we’ll have time. The Jewish scriptures are particularly strong in calling for kindness to the alien and the stranger among you, quote, unquote. The reason, as is always stated, goes because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Widows and orphans, the alien and stranger all continue to be important in God’s Word, but all of them always are yet required to conform to God’s law, never the other way around. God’s law never conformed to fit the stranger and his ways. I encountered a series of molestation episodes as a boy, age four to 14. It stirred sexual images that continue to arise and threaten my peace even to this day, but the nature of the experience, if pursued, there’s suddenly and increasingly addictive. In being practiced, they’re destructive for men, even if not practiced promiscuously, because of the nature of anal sex and the tearing of the bowel and resultant blood related diseases that shorten promising lives. I never want to see such sexual practices promoted and normalized in our society, not for our grandchildren and not for anyone of the little ones in our society who will be struggling or are now, whatever the age, with tremendous threats to their peace. Nor does God want, the God who loves all of us, including all of the categories addressed by this amendment; age, disability, the whole works. Nor does the God want it who loves us enough to come into this mortal flesh of ours and give Himself to break us free from what in this flesh of ours destroys. Thank you very much for the time.
President Abell: Thank you. Mary Ellen Van Dyke.
Mary Ellen Van Dyke: Hello, Commissioners. My name is Mary Ellen Van Dyke. I am, I live at 8100 Fairview Drive in Newburgh. I’m a former Vanderburgh County resident, however, I worship here in Vanderburgh County, I am employed, and I do most of my business here. I oppose this ordinance. I respect the human dignity of every person, but I do not accept behaviors that violate my conscience and my faith. I believe that all people are protected under existing law, so, I feel that this ordinance is not needed. I want to talk to you as a mom. I’ve heard very many people speak and very eloquently on both sides of this issue. However, I want you to know that on a recent shopping trip to the mall with my daughter, a man came into the dressing room where my daughter was changing. I politely asked that man to leave, but if you pass this ordinance, will I have the right to ask that man to leave? If that man presents himself as a woman, I will not. I think I have the right to protect my daughters, and I think you would want to protect your daughters too. I think most people in the county and across this part, across the country want the right to protect their daughters. This ordinance is government intrusion into people’s lives. I respectfully urge you to vote no on this ordinance.
President Abell: Thank you.
Commissioner Melcher: Mary? Mary? We’re keeping track, do you live in Warrick County?
Mary Ellen Van Dyke: Yes.
Commissioner Melcher: Okay, thank you.
President Abell: We actually, that was my fault, I thought this was, I thought the address was a Vanderburgh County address. We’re taking Vanderburgh County testimony first. So, if any of you live in another city or another county, since this is a county ordinance, we are taking Vanderburgh County testimony first. Ashley Summers.
Ashley Summers: Hi, my name is Ashley Summers. I am not really comfortable giving my address, since I’ve been threatened to be stoned to death, but I do live in Vanderburgh County and I have lived here for a number of years. I’ve been a resident of the State of Indiana for my entire life, and I was born here at Deaconess Hospital. I hear a lot of talk about the bathrooms issue, and that men will use it as an excuse to come into the bathroom and look at their daughters and that sort of thing. The majority in the audience behind me probably perceives me as a woman, but I was born a man. I don’t get that on a daily basis. This ordinance will help in case someone does decide that I’m not, that they’re not comfortable with me in the bathroom, that I can still be safe. I’m not in the bathroom to ogle at your daughters. I’m in the bathroom to use the bathroom. My sexual preference has no bearing on that. People say that this is a choice. I would say to that, who would choose a life of persecution? Who would choose a life of discrimination? I’ve been discriminated against at work, in my home, by my family, by my friends, and by my community just for being who I need to be. I was in a very dark place before I changed myself to Ashley Summers. I contemplated suicide at several points in my life. That’s a growing problem within the transgender community, that one out of every two of us will commit suicide in their lifetime. It’s a 50 percent suicide rate in the small, one percentage of the population that is considered transgender. A lot of people here today will say things like they don’t believe that an ordinance should pass based on their religious views, and the Word of God is higher than the law of man. Thankfully, we live in a country where that isn’t the case. The law of man overrules any religious beliefs that you may have. The freedom of religion is also the freedom from religion. So, anyone who says that because they don’t believe that God agrees with what my side may be doing, it doesn’t mean that we, as a community, have to. I feel like I am an upstanding member of the community. I help in any way that I can. I’m an activist for my cause. I’m a fairly friendly person. If a normal person were to meet me on the street, they would have no idea. Yet, at the same time if I were to come up to them and tell them, well, I’m a transsexual, I’ll be looked at as an entirely different person. I had that at work, I worked at a local business here, and I worked there for a number of years and I was a very valued employee. Then when I decided to transition, I became a less than valued employee and was consistently persecuted against until eventually I was fired. I have been unemployed since last June. I haven’t been able to find work here in the county. Anytime that someone brings up a background check on me, it pops up two names and they move on. So, personally this ordinance affects me living in Vanderburgh County, I know that there’s an ordinance here in the city, unfortunately this ordinance has no teeth. All I can do is go down and say to the HR or the Human Relations Committee that, and file a complaint. You won’t be held liable if you don’t hire me, you won’t be subject to litigation, you won’t be subject to arrest or anything like that. So, there’s really no teeth to this, but at the same time it does make me feel a little better that there’s that little thing, that little complaint, you know, so many complaints, people might choose not to go there, things like that. I wish we lived in a place with teeth, because I probably wouldn’t have been fired and I probably would have found a job by now. Unfortunately, people judge me based on what my perceived sexual preferences are, and not my personal abilities. Another thing that comes up a lot is things like infidelity and anal sex and things like that. I know plenty of straight, heterosexual men who enjoy doing anal sex with their wives. It’s just a part of sexuality. I don’t think that we should limit anything like that, just based on our beliefs religiously. I don’t think that that’s of any merit. I also think that the fact that only gays receive, or that produce AIDS and spread venereal diseases is also a lie. Straight people can get AIDS too, and not just from having sex with gay men. It’s not a gay epidemic that’s only through the gay relationship. A lot of why I believe the AIDS epidemic started so hard in the gay community is because, at the time, we hadn’t really, we weren’t really big on contraceptives, because essentially a gay man and a gay man can’t become pregnant. So, that was just not a concern. As time has grown on, we’ve gone to use things like condoms and contraceptives and that sort of thing, and they’ve helped tremendously. I’m not comfortable with sharing the amount of sexual partners I have, but I can assure you it’s less than 50. It’s less than 10. In fact, it’s probably less than five. I’m 26 years old, I turn 27 this year, so, I’ve been out and proud for a few years, and before that I had been engaged to a woman. I try to live my life the best that I can. Contraceptives help people, not just contraceptives, but condoms and things, help to prevent the spread of disease. Anyone who says otherwise is hurting society more than saying that contraceptives are good for the society. That’s all of no consequence, of course, to this ordinance. Sorry, I’m really nervous up here and I’m kind of–
President Abell: Your five minutes are up.
Ashley Summers: Okay, well, thanks guys.
President Abell: Thank you. John Radez. I may have mispronounced your name.
John Radez: Good afternoon. I’m John Radez, 21 East Powell. I’m a professor at USI and UE, and I’m a lecturer in Islamic Metaphysics at IU Bloomington. I support this measure, because as we started we all took an allegiance and a pledge for liberty and justice for all, and that pledge isn’t conditional. It doesn’t say liberty and justice if. It’s not exclusive, saying liberty and justice for some. I just think that we all ought to keep that in mind. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Rick Barter.
Rick Barter: Hello, Commissioners. I’ve known all of you for quite some time. My name is Rick Barter. I live at the corner of Delaware and Elsas. I have been an out gay man all of my life. At age three I suspected that there was something strange about my attraction. It was genetic, it was not learned. No one ever tried to teach me anything. I fought it. I went to church. I prayed to be overcome, the feeling that I had, and it didn’t work. So, I’ve been a successful business person, a successful leader in my community, and now I’m 65 years old, so, I need you to pass this ordinance to protect gay people, old people, and now I’m becoming handicapped. So, I would encourage you to vote for it. I suspect that you all have family and friends who would be covered by this ordinance when you pass it. So, please, please do that. I encourage you. I want to tell you that I know that God created us all in His own image, seven to ten percent of all human beings are attracted to the same sex. It’s not a learned thing. It’s a genetic thing, and to judge people who are born this way, you are judging God’s work and you are condemning it if you are talking about some of the things that people have here. I think we’ve heard way too much about sexual issues today, but I would encourage you to give this equal rights to all people in our county. Thank you, Commissioners.
President Abell: Thank you. Katie Francis.
Cathie Francis: Good afternoon. My name is Cathie Francis. I live at 10 North Alvord Boulevard in Evansville, a resident of Vanderburgh County. I’m here today because I do oppose this ordinance. I am a born again Christian, and I do have a personal relationship with God, and I do believe what God’s Word teaches. When I became a Christian the Holy Spirit came to live in my heart, and the Holy Spirit is what convicts me every day of wrong doing and right doing. I do personally believe that this ordinance will only enhance activity that is opposed to God’s Word. So, I strongly urge you to please consider opposing this ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Jennifer Pitt. Jennifer Pitt?
Unidentified: She left.
President Abell: Eric Tillman. Eric Tillman? Brittney Blane?
Brittney Blane: My name is Brittney Blane. I live at 6108 Richmond Court. I’m a Vanderburgh County resident. I’m just going to make this short. I didn’t write nothing, but I am opposed to this, and I don’t say it with any hate in my heart. I love each and every single one of you. This is not about hate. This about my personal relationship with God, and that’s why I’m opposed to this ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Mike Pfohl.
Mike Pfohl: Thank you for this opportunity to address the Vanderburgh County Commissioners. My name is Mike Pfohl. I am a resident of Vanderburgh County and the pastor of Destiny of Faith Community Church. The purpose of this meeting is one of vital interest to the safety and well being of our community. Whether you believe sexual orientation, gender identity is a matter of choice or genetic predisposition is a topic for discussion another day and another time. However, I would like to address two areas of concern. The first area of concern is as a grandfather of four lovely children, young girls, two of which are biological and two who have been adopted. One is Asian descent, the other one is African American. With a racially diverse family I hope that you can see that my remarks are not based on prejudice or bigotry, but rather on a genuine concern for the well being of our community. If the changes to this ordinance were to pass as currently written, I would find it very uncomfortable to take my grandchildren to a public restaurant, or for that matter to a public facility. With the ordinance allowing access to public restroom facilities to any person who’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and to quote the code, “whether or not such characteristics differ from those traditionally associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth”, would open the door for violent crimes against young children. By that, I am not saying that the persons with these issues would necessarily be the perpetrator, but that it would be very easy for a person given to pedophelia to cross dress and wait for an opportune time to molest a child. The second area of concern is as a minister. We are fortunate to live in the greatest country the world has ever known. Our Creator, not the state has given us rights, privileges, rights and privileges according to the Constitution. From the beginning of our Nation we have been a people willing to lay down our life and limb to protect the rights of the downtrodden, the weak and the disadvantaged. Unfortunately, some on the other side of this issue feel it is their responsibility to deny those same rights to others by imposing their desires on the community as a whole. Once again, whether you personally believe these issues are genetic or a matter of a choice is not the crux of the matter. The essence is actions, not predispositions. Just as it would not be acceptable for a person choosing to live with a member of the opposite sex outside the sacrament of marriage is to remain a position within the church, it would be equally unacceptable for a person choosing to openly participate in this lifestyle to remain, by force, in the employ of any ministry. This ordinance would effectively eliminate the establishment and maintenance of any code of conduct for our church and for our ministry employees. As a church, there are certain standards and mores to which we must be able to hold our employees and ourselves in order to maintain faithful to the integrity of our message. This ordinance as written, would require a church to maintain the employment of an individual whose actions are contrary to those standards and mores. In my humble opinion, that action would be in direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, as it would be prohibiting the free exercise of our religions, standards and mores. It is for these reasons that I respectfully encourage the County Commission to vote no on the proposed amendments to chapter 2.56 of the Code of Ordinances of Vanderburgh County. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you.
Robert Dion: President Abell? I don’t want to interrupt the sequence, but is there a way perhaps that our attorney could address the suggestion that this is going to force churches to do things? It might allay some fears of people in the room.
President Abell: Yes, he can, but not right now.
Robert Dion: Okay, sorry.
President Abell: We’re going to try to get through some of this list, before I go forward, Kristin, would you let me see how many have signed up since. Here we are, let’s see what we’ve got here. Can you tell me which, how many are on each list? Just the numbers.
Kristin Comer: There’s eleven additional.
President Abell: I’m sorry, how many?
Kristin Comer: Eleven.
President Abell: Eleven, and that’s all, just eleven more?
Kristin Comer: Yep.
President Abell: On either list? Commissioners, I’m going to leave this up to you, we have 11 more people over here to hear from, we have it looks like 13 left on one list, and 20 left on the other. We’re going to go till 6:30. Dr., I’ll let, I will let Mr. Kent speak, how much time does Mr. Kent need to answer?
Robert Dion: One minute.
President Abell: Okay, at 6:25, Mr. Kent, I will let you speak. At 6:30 we will adjourn this public hearing, we will reconvene for those who have not had an opportunity to speak and allow further testimony at another time, but we cannot stay here much past 6:30 this evening. With that said, we’re not, are you okay if we don’t take a break, Mr. Melcher?
Commissioner Melcher: I don’t need a break.
President Abell: Okay. Our next speaker is Katie Griffin.
Katie Griffin: Hello, my name is Katie Griffin. I live at 8635 Greendale Drive in Vanderburgh County. So, as many other, or several other people rather have suggested today that, you know, in our pledge we conclude the pledge by saying with liberty and justice for all. We know that that is something that not just we believe, but it’s something that is at the very heart of our nation. For all, it’s not just for certain groups of people, or people who, you know, agree with everyone and everything. But, it’s for everyone who lives in this nation. I ask that you remember that. I would also like to mention that I have been called into the ministry by God, and because of that I support this, because of that and because of other reasons as well, I support this ordinance. You know, there are many people in the church who think that because I am a woman that I do not have something to say, that God does not call me to the ministry, but I think that I have a voice and I think I have something to say, and because of that I feel called to the ministry. I would like to just conclude shortly by asking you, you know, when you decided that you were straight, if homosexuality is a choice, then so is heterosexuality. I am a straight woman, and I think back to my childhood and I never made a decision that I would be straight, because I just knew that that’s who I was. Just as the color of hair on my head and the fact that I’m a woman and my blue eyes, that is part of who I am. So, we shouldn’t discriminate against people because of who they are. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Marian Yoder.
Marian Yoder: Hello, my name is Marian Yoder. I live at 451 Vann Avenue. I actually own a house here, and I am only 21 years old. First, I was not actually planning to speak today, I kind of thought the people who would speak for this would be people who could be affected by it. I am not afraid to be discriminated against. I don’t think I will be discriminated against when trying to find a job, but I do think that it is important to stand up and show my support. I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against, and I think it’s pretty well established that discrimination is a bad thing. I just don’t understand why anyone would be able to fight to be able to discriminate. I would like to say to you guys that you should check statistics, I know some statistics have been thrown out today about sexually transmitted diseases and sex partners. I would encourage you to look into that information and not just believe what people have been saying. I would also like to say that Evansville has already passed this in the city, and nothing crazy has happened yet. So, I don’t think that adding it to the county will make any difference. I also am very concerned with the way that God has been thrown out. I mean, I think it’s pretty well established that people on both sides are Christian, people on both sides have faith, and I don’t think that we should be saying, oh, God’s on my side or God’s on the other side. I think that that’s really frustrating. I think, sorry, I wasn’t really prepared to talk today, but I think the biggest thing I have to say is that nobody should have to feel like they might be discriminated against. Nobody should be discriminated against. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t add age, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation to the civil rights ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Ryan Beal?
Ryan Baker: Hi, my name is Ryan Baker. I live at 847 Douglas Drive in Evansville. I’m a citizen of Vanderburgh County. I’m a former member of the Tri-State Alliance, and the only reason I’m not a member anymore is because I’m too old to be. The opposing side kind of knocks that organization a little bit. I grew up in a, let’s say conservative town, Jasper, about an hour away from here. I moved down to Evansville because the gay community down here was very strong. I didn’t really have that at home. A very good friend of mine took me to the TSA meetings and I found friendship when I needed to move on with my life. I’ve been living here for three years now. So, I’m in favor of this ordinance. Thank you for allowing me to speak.
President Abell: Thank you. Ed Filbert. Glen Kissel.
Glen Kissel: Thank you members of the Board of Commissioners of Vanderburgh County. You need to tell the members of the members of the Human Relations Commission that their little game is over. We, the citizens of Vanderburgh County are tired of being pawns in this illbegotten nonsense churned out by that Human Relations Commission, including this discriminatory ordinance. On December 13th you were told one story about this ordinance. Then on December 20th you were told a different story about the ordinance. You’ve had to rely on the good citizens of Vanderburgh County to give you the straight story about the ordinance. Should that surprise us? After all, it was this same Human Relations Commission that dragged the Girl Scouts and St. Mary’s Medical Center to court a year and half ago, even though they had no jurisdiction to do so against these non-profit organizations. The Vanderburgh Superior Court judge ruled against the Human Relations Commission in the St. Mary’s case precisely because the Human Relations Commission had no authority in the matter. Only then was the case against the Girl Scouts dropped. You would think that after being slapped down by the Vanderburgh Superior Court judge they would come back to you with an amendment to bring their own ordinance in line with the Indiana Civil Rights Act. But, no, did they do that? No, they’re playing the same game again. This time instead of trying to manipulate the courts, they’re trying to manipulate you. They’re trying to force your hand to pass an amendment for which you have absolutely no authority, under State or Federal law, an ordinance that will illegally impact our schools, our businesses and our places of worship. The Human Relations Commission didn’t even have the courage to go in front of the parents of our local schools and tell them that the distinction between men and women’s restrooms would be obliterated by this ordinance. The Human Relations Commission did not have the time to go before property owners or small businesses and service providers and tell them that their freedom of association and freedom of conscience were to be violated by this ordinance, and, again, the distinction between men’s and women’s restrooms would be obliterated. Members of this Commission, you know that has already occurred within the city limits of Evansville. Neither did the Human Relations Commission even have the good courtesy to go before countless churches and faith based organizations in the county and announce to them that their freedom of association and freedom of religion was to be ripped to shreds by this ordinance. But, the Human Realtions Commission did have the time, by a majority vote, to spend $10,000 to bring in Angela Davis as the keynote speaker at its annual banquet this year. Yes, that’s the Angela Davis who believes that all minorities should be released from prison, and the Angela Davis who funneled arms to the Black Panthers in 1970, and those arms were subsequently used to murder a Federal judge. Only because of subsequent opposition was this speaking invitation rescinded. Yes, County Commissioners, it would be this Human Relations Commission that would administer this newly amended ordinance, if it passed, the same Human Relations Commission that violated its own jurisdiction by dragging non-profits to court. The same Human Relations Commission that gave you one story on December 13th and a different story on December 20th. The same Human Relations Commission that hasn’t had the courage or sense to explain to the citizenry that their freedom of association and freedom of conscience would be obliterated by this ordinance, and, yes, the same Human Relations Commission that voted to spend $10,000 to bring the racist, Angela Davis, in as their keynote speaker. Members of the Board of Commissioners of Vanderburgh County, this citizen will not be a pawn of this Human Relations Commission. Members of the Board of Commissioners of Vanderburgh County, it is time for you, on behalf of the citizens of this county, once and for all, to tell this Human Relations Commission the game is over.
President Abell: Thank you. Jim Braker.
Jim Braker: Good evening, Commissioners. Thanks for having us here. My name is Jim Braker. I live at 1700 East Blackford, here in the city and Vanderburgh County. I’m against this ordinance. The proponents of this ordinance say there is only limited enforcement. Even though limited enforcement available is an ordinance, or that it’s voluntary compliance. What good is voluntary compliance? Why would it be necessary? Why do we need this ordinance? We already have an ordinance, we already have the Civil Rights Act of Indiana, which covers this. It only helps a privileged group, that’s all it helps is a privileged group. Furthermore, the Indiana Civil Rights Act has exemptions for employees who are non-profit, religious or educational organizations. These exemptions are not included in this present or proposed ordinance. Also, I would like to say, you know, in God’s Word He says, man to lie with a man or a woman to lie with a woman is an abomination. If He said that, He said My Word is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So, if He said that yesterday, He meant it today and tomorrow. So, it is an abomination. I’m a born again Christian and I’m against this because it is against God’s law. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. David Peterson.
David Peterson: David Peterson, 14134 Darmstadt Road. I am a resident of Vanderburgh County. I hate to be against an ordinance that’s supposedly for human rights, but what I see here going on is you have two groups here, both with bound consciences. You have a group of people saying that their scriptures tell them that sexual behavior is to be between one man and one woman. They’re not only bound by those scriptures, but they look at biology and they see that one man and one woman form a biological unit. They are a complete unit. They say this biology, the fact of nature tells them this is the purpose, one man, one woman are a unit. That’s the whole basis of even limiting marriage. Why limit marriage if it’s just for love? But, we limit marriage because we say one man and one woman form a unit. The other side says there are different types of sexualities. We should affirm them. This ordinance would criminalize one of those views. It would criminalize the view that says it’s between one man and one woman, because it says it’s unlawful for a person which caters or offers its services or facilities or goods to the general public to discriminate because of sexual orientation. It defines “sexual orientation” as male or female homosexuality or bisexuality, real or perceived by orientation or practice. What is says is, I wonder, I would like to hear from the attorney, does this say to the counselor who is just acting as a counselor, not as a religious counselor, but as a counselor if someone comes to you and says I want sex advice for my homosexual relationship and they say that goes against my conscience. I believe it’s between one man and one woman, would it mean that that person says if I want to refer you to another person who can do that because they feel like they can do that, but it goes against my conscience. If that counselor then criminalized? Or is it unlawful for that counselor, as a counselor... a person in Michigan was, actually had a court case on that, all the way up to where they were tried in the court. Would it be unlawful then for an adoption agency, founded by someone who believes in marriage between one man and one woman, would it be criminal for them to say I only adopt to married people, or celibate single people? That is the case in Massachusetts. It is criminal for the Catholic church, or any adoption agency in Massachusetts to adopt only to married people. Would that be the case here? If it’s not a so called religious place, if it’s just run by a person of conscience. Would it be illegal here, criminal, for someone to have a foster service that only fosters out to male and female married couples? It’s now illegal in Illinois to not include people who are not homosexual. Would it be illegal here for someone to have a (tape flip) that is only for heterosexual couples .E-Harmony was told in California it was illegal for them, and they were forced to open their services, even though E-Harmony was founded by a Christian man, he was forced to open his services to homosexual people. What is going on here is beyond tolerance of both views, to saying this is forced affirmation of one view. It’s taking one moral position and saying this is the moral position that we’re affirming as a county. We’re going to tell the thousands of people here, you’ve just heard a sampling of the thousands of people here who have a bound conscience, bound by scripture and by the biological fact that one man and one woman form a biological unit, and telling them that your view in unlawful and it is criminal. It is unlawful for you to discriminate based on sexual orientation, orientation or practice. Practice is in there, saying you cannot discriminate on that practice if you have an adoption agency and you’re just a person doing that, not a religious organization. Or you’re a counselor and you’re just acting as a counselor and you only counsel sexual cases where it’s male or female, or you have a dating service, or whatever it may be. Criminalizing the deeply held beliefs of traditional religious people, who believe sex is to be reserved to the marriage of one man or one woman, is unfair and unjust, and therefore I think it must be opposed. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Joshua Claspell.
Joshua Claspell: Hello, my name is Joshua Claspell. I live at 409 Lodge Avenue. I’m a current Vanderburgh County resident. I am openly gay teenager at Bosse High School. I am 17, and throughout my school life I have been harassed, bullied, told to kill myself and among other hurtful things. I haven’t had many friends in my school life for that reason. I look at our country, I look at my city, and I see a country such as Canada, South Africa and people that are gay, lesbian, bi and transgender have more rights there than they do in their own, what is supposed to be the melting pot of the world. I just ask that, you know, you look at what you’re doing to the young generation. I am not spiritual, unlike many of you here today, and I have my reasons, because I’ve gone to church and they have turned me away for who I am. I believe that if I want the right to have a job without being discriminated, I should have that right. I should not be in fear of being fired for a person that is gay. I should not be fired or turned away at a restaurant or a business for simply loving another man. I should be allowed to have the same things any other heterosexual couple, or heterosexual person out there can have. I am young, I believe the same way you do, and I see the world just like you all do. I want to be able to grow up without being discriminated against, without being judged and live freely as the person I am. I am in favor of this ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Joshua, excuse me, Jessica Jones.
Jessica Jones: Hello, my name is Jessica Jones. I live at 707 West Buena Vista, here in Vanderburgh County. I’ve heard very many things thrown around today. I’ve heard Leviticus quoted twice, but I haven’t heard the part where it’s mentioned that it’s also an abomination to eat shrimp or touch the skin of a dead pig, which is also known as leather. So, those are just a couple things that, you know, our society has chosen to forget about, but we still continue to focus on a man laying with another man being an abomination. Also, earlier, someone spoke about how, and there was quite some disdain to it whenever it was mentioned that, you know, these are man’s laws we don’t follow a certain set of God’s laws in this country. I think that’s really a good thing. I think it’s a good thing for everybody, because while most people in this room that have spoken out have been of the Christian faith so far, we are currently in the majority in this country, they might not be so happy that we don’t have religious freedom if another religion is in the majority. So, I think, restricting freedoms on any front and discriminating against another set of people is just not a good road to go down, no matter what we’re going to do. Another thing I heard was parents being scared for their children, well, I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where discrimination is the norm. I want them to grow up thinking that who they are, and what they can do is based on the content of their character, not based on whether they’re gay, whether they’re straight, whether they’re old, disabled, black, white, Muslim, Jew, whatever. So, I’m in favor of this ordinance.
President Abell: Thank you. Tim Thompson.
Tim Thompson: Hi, I’m Tim Thompson. I live at 2063 East Gum, here in Evansville, Vanderburgh County resident. I’m a registered, straight Christian who is for the ordinance, for a number of reasons. I have gay friends, co-workers, I’ve seen the discrimination. I have daughters who have disabilities. I remember a time when they were going into elementary school when the school principal, the building principal said we have schools for people like that. She wasn’t supposed to go our neighborhood school with the children she grew up with in the neighborhood. She was supposed to go to a different school across town where they dealt with people with her issues. We kind of fought that. She ended up having a successful elementary school career. I’ve heard a lot of passion on both sides, a lot of things that I think are irrational fears, the whole restroom issue kind of boggles my mind. I think back, I’m old enough that I remember the women’s rights movement and that was one of the issues that was argued then, if we gave women rights, then they could go in men’s restrooms too, and people were up in arms about that. That there would be no delineation anymore. Everybody would use the same restroom and that’s why, you know, women shouldn’t have equal pay for equal jobs and that kind of thing. So, I’m just against discrimination in general, and for that reason I am for the ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Andrew Brown. Andrew Brown? Is that Brown? It could be like Andrew Bunner? Is there an Andrew here that signed in to speak? Well, then, I guess it doesn’t make any difference. Wayne Miller. Wayne Miller? Tommy Shutt.
Commissioner Melcher: Tommy was here.
President Abell: Joseph Willis. David Schwambach. Kevin Dozier.
Commissioner Melcher: David is coming.
President Abell: Oh.
David Schwambach: I’m Dave Schwambach. I live at 430 South Hebron, 47714 here in Vanderburgh County. I too am opposed. As written, obeying this ordinance, as we understand it, would require our churches, schools and Christ centered businesses to ignore specific Biblical standards in hiring and retaining those charged with carrying out our Christian mission. You can appreciate that this would place us in a very unhappy position. On one hand we desire to teach our families, students and congregations the Biblical commands to obey the laws of the land. On the other hand, we would be required to remind them that the Bible also teaches that when a man’s laws conflict with God’s, we must obey God rather than man. We do not believe it is necessary for our County Commissioners to put Bible respecting citizens of our community in such a win-lose position. Clearly, whenever such potential conflicts have arisen, our country has made religion freedom of conscience a foundational guiding principle. We suggest a win-win solution that exempts all faith based institutions from the portions of this ordinance that are in violation of Biblical standards. We respect the fact that you have the responsibility to do what is right for all of the citizens of Vanderburgh County. Please be assured that we have absolutely no interest in forcing those who disagree with the teachings of the scripture to adhere to our Biblical standards. However, as fellow citizens, we ask the Commissioners to respect the right not to be forced to adhere to theirs. Surely this is the solution that allows all citizens of Vanderburgh County to continue to live in mutually respectful harmony with one another. As Commissioners you have been given a position of high and holy trust for such a time as this. God holds each of us, and all of us, and you as our Commissioners, personally responsible for the votes you cast on this ordinance. We pledge to pray for you during this time of decision. We are confident that as you sincerely seek His help, He will provide you with the wisdom that you require. I too am so grateful for this open dialogue. What great wisdom to open the floor. Thank you very much.
President Abell: Thank you, Pastor. I’ve gotten a note that Andrew is in–
Andrew Ozete: I’m Andrew Ozete, I’m not Andrew Brown. I don’t know where I was on the list that I signed in on.
President Abell: Oh, you’re down further. It was a different Andrew.
Andrew Ozete: Thank you. I’m sorry, Commissioner.
President Abell: As a matter of fact, you’re not too many more away. Levon Dozier.
Levon Dozier: Levon Dozier.
President Abell: Levon Dozier, I’m sorry. I can’t read everybody’s handwriting.
Levon Dozier: Levon Dozier, 5615 Kiowa Circle, Evansville, Indiana. I am a resident of Vanderburgh County. Good evening, Commissioners, and to the public. Expressing my opposition to the portion of the ordinance about sexual identification and gender orientation. As a pastor in this community I serve in this community in that regard to minister the tenets and the principles and the truths that are found in the scripture, more specifically the Holy Bible. The majority of the demographic at my church are young adults, college age and young married couples. There’s not a week that goes by that I am counseling individuals who have gender confusion or same sex attraction. I understand the torment and the turmoil that an individual may go through with wrestling against these particular desires. But, currently, under the current ordination, the way it is written, the ordinance will force us to affirm a behavior, alright. I want to bring distinction between the person and the behavior. In Christiandom the Bible teaches us about sins, and it outlines what sins are. As ministers of the faith, senior leaders, pastors, we’re committed not only to affirm those things that are considered strengths, but those things that work against us as pre-determined by God. The question is, what brings in the question am I attacking a person by disagreeing, or am I disagreeing with the behavior? We’re here to say that to disagree with a behavior doesn’t mean that we hate the individual. We all have shortcomings that we had to come from, and according to scripture we understand that this behavior is not something that we can condone or affirm, but it’s not to say we hate the individual. That is not the verbiage, that is not what we’re saying. I stand here and I ask the Commissioners, on behalf of anyone that says that they are Christian that have written you hateful e-mails, distasteful letters, on behalf of the true character of Christ that you forgive us, because that’s not His character. He did not, He said I did not come into the world to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through Me. So, we have that responsibility. The individual can choose what they want to choose, but under this current ordinance it will force us to affirm. Now, I have youth ministers, I have youth ministers that have a college campus ministry that we do, and if that youth minister comes to me and says, you know, I’ve decided to be a homosexual, I cannot, by Biblical standards, condone that behavior and keep him in that position of oversight. But, under this current ordinance it forces my hand, if I am to obey this ordinance that I would have to allow that to take place, because if he doesn’t, he has the power and the ability to file a discrimination. Which is unfair according to scripture. So, I stand here today, not saying that we hate, we minister to people who are struggling with gender confusion, same sex attraction and many can tell you how they’ve overcome that desire. So, we are not saying that we’re hate filled, we’re bigoted. No, we’re just here to say that, under this ordinance, we cannot affirm this. An ordinance itself is a regulation that we have to obey, but it also comes from a stronger word called “ordain”, and that word, when you trace it’s definition, is determined by something higher than us. So, for us to submit to obey this ordinance is saying that we have to affirm something that is contrary to the fundamental principles of a society. So, we’re here, and to the homosexual community, the bisexual community, we’re here to say we do not hate, we do not discriminate, but under the definition of what scripture teaches, we cannot affirm the behavior. The behavior has nothing to do with the individuals personality. I was born black, I cannot do anything about that. So, to equate this with civil rights, we cannot do that. We were discriminated because of the color of our skin. I did not negotiate with God about what color I was going to be. This is the way I was born. I was born a male. Under this ordinance it blurs the definition of maleness and femaleness, which we were all pre-determined, it was pre-determined by God Himself. Thank you for your time.
President Abell: Thank you. Mr. Kent, I will give you your time.
David Kent: Thank you, Commissioners. Madam President, fellow Commissioners, just, first off, my name is David Kent, I’m the attorney for the Human Relations Commission. Just a few things to clean up in terms of listening to what’s been brought before you. Number one, with regard to religious exemption, not-for-profits, religion, fraternal and social organizations, under Indiana Code 22-9 et seq, they’re already exempt. They’re not listed in our ordinance because they’re already in the statute which enables us to have an ordinance to begin with. If the Commission would like, and it’s never been in our ordinance. If the Commission would like us to amend to add that specific section so that people hold it and read it, we’ll be happy to add it, okay. But, I want to make that very clear that those organizations are exempt under our ordinance, under every part of our ordinance, not just what we’re amending here. I want to be very clear about that. Specifically, there was some concern with regard to criminalizing, this is not a criminal statute. This is an ordinance that is non-compulsory in nature. It is consistent with other ordinances in our State, in fact, ours is one of the least, us and Ft. Wayne are the only non-compulsory, option-oriented type of ordinances. Indianapolis, Lafayette, Bloomington theirs have teeth, they can actually go ahead and fine people for these types of issues, but that’s not what we’re doing here, that’s not what I was asked to draw up. What I was asked to draw up was to draw up an amendment to an ordinance. Now, there are some other things in this ordinance that were done, specifically, “disability” was put in and the word “handicap” was taken out. These were things that were brought to us back in ‘09 when the code services went through our ordinances and made suggested changes. So, those things are necessary to move forward. There has been some concern with regard to our ability to do this. I want to go ahead and address that now, if you would like me to, specifically, Indiana Code 36-1-3-3, the Home Rule statute, states that; “any doubt as the existence of a power of unit shall be resolved in favor of its existence”. Now, you have to play that with our enabling ordinance, which is 22-9-1 et seq., the whole Indiana Civil Rights ordinance, which gives us the ability to have an ordinance. The big thing here is, these amendments are not in conflict with the Indiana Civil Rights Act. In conflict mean, diametrically opposed. This is an expansion. This is not in conflict. If we were to take our ordinance and say religion is not exempted, religion is not protected, race is not protected, that would be in conflict. What I have been asked to do here is not in conflict with the enabling statute from the Indiana Civil Rights Act. I’ll be happy to answer any other questions that you have at this time. I know that we’re going to end up coming back, I believe you scheduled for April 9th, I believe was out, that’s what we said in January when we set both of these dates.
Commissioner Melcher: Was it the 9th?
President Abell: Yeah, I think you’re correct, Mr. Kent. I think it is April the 9th. You will be available to be here that night?
David Kent: I will be available on that date as well.
President Abell: Okay. Thank you. It could be that Mr. Harrison may want to talk to you.
David Kent: Sure.
Commissioner Melcher: So, the date is April 9th, not the 2nd?
President Abell: It is the 9th. We have numerous people left that want to speak, in fact, what I have here is, I don’t know, we have 26, Commissioners, we have 26 people left here to speak. If everyone takes five minutes, and everyone so far has, almost, that would put us here probably another couple hours. What’s your pleasure.
Commissioner Kiefer: We’re still going to meet again, regardless, on the 9th, right?
Commissioner Melcher: Are we clear, do we got the room on the 9th? Okay.
Commissioner Kiefer: I mean, I would ask, I mean, you know, unless there’s, I mean, how many of these people are going to have new information? I mean, it seems like we’re getting a lot of the same stories over and over and over again. You know, if it’s new information, but I don’t want to keep people from their right to talk either. But, otherwise I could say we could pick up where we left off on the 9th. Steve, how do you, what’s your opinion, what’s your feeling?
Commissioner Melcher: It’s okay with me, but I might not be here the 9th, because I had the 2nd.
Commissioner Melcher: Well, then, whatever you want to do, Steve.
Commissioner Melcher: I thought we had it marked the 2nd, but I’m probably going to be gone the 9th.
President Abell: What do you want to do?
Commissioner Kiefer: I mean, do you think we can get through everybody tonight? I mean, can’t, I mean–
Commissioner Melcher: Well, there’s probably some people that’s not going to be able to be at the next one either. So, I’m just saying whatever we can do. I don’t mind staying.
Commissioner Kiefer: It’s up to you guys, whatever, I mean, I’m already here.
President Abell: You’ve already spoken.
Unidentified: I know, I just want to ask a question (Inaudible. Not at microphone.)
President Abell: We are really trying to get through this.
Unidentified: Okay, thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. I’m sorry, but you spoke and we’re just trying to give other people the opportunity to speak that haven’t spoken yet.
Commissioner Kiefer: Okay.
President Abell: Are you okay to stay?
Commissioner Kiefer: Yeah.
President Abell: We will stay for a little while longer, but please limit your comments, and if we’ve already heard what you have to say, be respectful, saying it again, we really are smart people. We get it the first time. We don’t have to be told many, many times. It will give everybody the opportunity to speak and we will get out of here. Okay, the next person is Donald Dockery. Donald Dockery? Shirley Dockery? Andy Ozete?
Andy Ozete: Close. Thank you, Commissioners. My name is Andy Ozete. I’m a resident of Vanderburgh County. I live at 5700 Creekstone here in the county. My concern is that I think that what you are attempting to do, through ordinance, is something that would be properly done through resolution. I differ, with all due respect, from Mr. Kent, in that I do not believe that you have the power under the Home Rule statute to enact this proposed ordinance. The Indiana statute is very clear on what are protected classes, and you are indeed expanding that and going beyond the scope of the statute. So, I do believe it conflicts. For example, the statute prescribes as to utilities, certain things utilities can do. You are prohibited from regulating those utilities. You might say, but I’m just adding to that, I’m just adding a new requirement for utilities in Vanderburgh County. You can’t do that, because it’s against the Home Rule statute. I think that’s very similar here. I asked why was this necessary, because what I am told consistently is don’t worry, there’s no teeth. Why is this necessary then? What I was told was, we need to gather information. We need to figure out what’s going on in our community. You could have, you could commission a study today, you could gather information on your own without, in fact, making something criminal. I’m a little frustrated by the rhetoric that says we’re not criminalizing anything. You say it is unlawful to. That is criminal. It is unlawful to. So, I think that’s what is really frustrating me. If you wanted to, by resolution, say we think that having everyone have equal rights is a good thing, great, so be it. But, I’m very concerned that you are exceeding your Constitutional mandate. I’m also concerned when I’m told don’t worry about the churches that are already exempt. I’m also concerned about that, because the very Human Rights Commission who will be entrusted with overseeing this regulation, does not have a good history in that regard. So, since we have bad behavior by the organization who’s seeking additional authority, I think that has to enter into your analysis, as to do you give them additional authority or not. When we have, we’re told government get out of the way, don’t hurt business, don’t add new regulations. You’re adding new regulations. I’m also told, don’t worry, there’s no teeth, but if I want to have a contract with the county, I must include this in my, I must have a non-discrimination policy. I don’t know if Mr. Harrison, your firm, has one, but you’re required to now. You’re requiring all vendors to have this policy. I’m not sure then if I want to rent the Ford Center because I want to have a religious service, you might say that’s not a good idea, but do I have to have this policy? The county says we cannot hire you unless you have this policy. So, there are economic teeth to this, and I’m not, by the way I’m not arguing that you don’t have the power to do it, but there are, and that’s a different issue, frankly, about a contract, than it is about criminalization. But, there are economic teeth to the resolution as it sits forward today. I don’t want to take up your time with talking about points that have been said. Thank you for your time and consideration.
President Abell: Thank you. Kaitlin Thomspson.
Kaitlin Thompson: Yes, Ma’am. Commissioners, thank you very much for your time and consideration in having this public meeting. My name is Kaitlin Thompson. I am a resident of Vanderburgh County, 2063 East Gum Street. I am in favor of this ordinance because it protects persons with disabilities, along with persons who fall under the LGBT community. As a person with a disability I’ve faced discrimination my entire life. I have faced discrimination in school, in communities not being able to access restaurants, places of public accommodation, etcetera. I’ll tell you why this is important and why you need to enact this ordinance now. If I were, or any of the people impacted by this ordinance were to file a complaint today, we would have to travel to Indianapolis, which is, which places an undue burden on people with disabilities who do not have access to transportation and to anyone else who may not have access to transportation. I’m here not only for myself, but for others with disabilities and the elderly and those in the LGBT community. We don’t want extra protections, we want to be able to seek mediation and remediation for things that have happened to us over these years and things that will continue to happen. We’re not asking for anything extra, we’re just asking for our voices to be heard. Discrimination and other prejudices are very painful and get at the very core of our human existence. Whether we’re Christian or non-Christian, straight, gay, disabled or not disabled, we want our voices heard, and we want an ability to stand up for our rights and the rights of our neighbors. Thank you very much.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Lisa Mueller.
Lisa Mueller: I’ll make this very brief. I am Lisa Mueller. I live at 3720 East Mulberry in Evansville, Indiana. We moved to Evansville about ten years ago from Warrick County, and we love it here. I want to believe in Evansville’s warm heart and their open hands and their good neighbors. I am gratified by the civility that we’ve encountered here tonight. When I hear the young man, Alex, who says that moving to Evansville saved his life, when I hear the young man, Josh, who wants to live in Evansville, who wants to stay in Evansville, who wants to be a part of this community, this is what I want for Evansville. I want it to be a warm and welcoming place, fair to every citizen, and, I, again, go back to the Pledge of Allegiance, justice for all. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Bill Mueller.
Bill Mueller: My name is Bill Mueller, 3720 East Mulberry Street, Evansville, Vanderburgh County resident. That was my spouse there. We thank you for your time, your consideration, and I also am grateful for the civility of this process. We do respect both sides. I do want to ask that you vote in favor of this ordinance for the fairness, respect and human dignity of all of our citizens. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Tamara Evans. How about Ms. Evans who lives on Hoosier Avenue? Okay. Felicia Simmons. Alan Leibunguth.
Alan Leibunguth: Alan Leibunguth, 5206 Lincoln, Evansville. Thank you to Mr. Kiefer, Ms. Abell and Mr. Melcher for allowing us to speak tonight. I rise in opposition, and I do so with the full knowledge, as you are aware, there’s a protection of our First Amendment rights, our freedom of expression, of religion, and how we view each of our protections that way. This ordinance seems to cause forced affirmation of a particular viewpoint. I do ask you to strike down this amendment and to severely curtail the abilities of the Human Relations Commission to operate in the manner in which they are doing. I think that’s caused some aggravation in the community. If that’s not possible, then I think there’s some vague wording in the amendment that needs to be challenged. On the third page, paragraph 18, subparagraph A, on what constitutes “failure to grant”, and what constitutes “equal opportunity”, on who is allowed to determine those two things. I’ll follow that and close with page five, section three, paragraph 21, with respect to complaints, with respect to accepting complaints, notifying respondents, challenging in the terms of voluntary investigation and voluntary mediation, I would recommend that the Board of Commissioners severely restrict the Human Relations Commission, and that any challenges that they take to the community must come through you people for verification and approval. That they are not allowed to go into the community without your permission. Thank you for your time.
President Abell: Thank you. Sherry Burdette. Sherry Burdette?
Sherry Burdette: My name is Sherry Burdette, 2217 West Virginia Street, Vanderburgh County. I am opposed to this. When I was young, very young, I had a dream. If you want something different, I will give you something different. I had a dream, and in this dream I saw men and women using the same restrooms, going in and out. It was a nightmare to me. I’m talking 40 years ago I saw this, and today, I thought maybe I might get through this life without seeing this happen, but it looks like to me it could be something that we’re looking at in the future. I’m just saying, I am against this because I know God’s against this, because I know this dream come from the Lord. I’m just telling you we’re all born with faults. Every one of us have a fault, or many faults, and we have to work out these faults with fear and trembling. The Bible says we have to work these things out. Now, I was born a female. I didn’t have to, you know, this sexual orientation, I don’t believe that’s a truth. I didn’t have to ask what I was. It was obvious, I’m white, I’m a female, and that’s just the way it is. If I have a problem with lying, I have to deal with that. If I have a problem with stealing, I have to deal with that. I have to deal with who I am. I can’t say I’m not who I am. I am, whether I like it or not. Now, I’m just saying I’m against trying to change definitions of what things are. I’m just one for the truth. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Ethan Thomas Falls. Ethan Thomas Falls? Summer Springer. Mary Jo Bennett.
Mary Bennett: I’m Mary Bennett.
President Abell: Mary Jo Bennett on Plaza Drive. Gordon Bennett. Mary Bennett on Monroe Avenue.
Commissioner Melcher: That’s her.
President Abell: Bingo.
Mary Bennett: Mary Bennett, 5908 Monroe, Vanderburgh County. Thank you for having this forum, as many other people have said. I’m speaking and asking you to approve this ordinance. I think it’s very important that we are a community that looks at all of its citizens equally. I’ve been a physical therapist for over 40 years, I’ve dealt with many people with disabilities, and have seen them discriminated against. I’ve seen the struggles that they’ve had when they’re using wheelchairs and using other devices, and that is simply not right. The word handicap, I think, was said maybe by David Kent, is no longer acceptable, disability is the right word. I’m closer to 70 than I am to 65, so I think the age bit is also important for me, as it is for many other of us. Certainly, I don’t feel like I’m very old, but those years are going on. Also, I have many friends in the gay community, I’ve had friends who are gay or lesbian for all of my life, and I’m straight. My husband couldn’t be here this evening, but they’ve never tried to convince me to be gay. They accept me as being straight. So, I think that’s something that we don’t have to worry about. I think that we need to look on them as people. I think, people from both sides of this, I’ve heard people who are opposing the ordinance say that they love these individuals, and if they loved them, then let’s just give them the same rights as everyone else. Thank you very much.
President Abell: Thank you. Marcia Ballard. Marcia Ballard? Gary May.
Gary May: This is the special microphone, huh? My name is Gary May, 2699 Briarcliff, Newburgh, Warrick County, Indiana.
President Abell: Mr. May, we ask that the Vanderburgh County people speak first. We don’t have very many more, if you want to stay around.
Gary May: A Warrick County person testified earlier.
President Abell: And, we didn’t know it was a Warrick County person and I made that announcement then. This is a Vanderburgh County ordinance and consequently Vanderburgh County people need to be heard first.
Gary May: I understand.
President Abell: Clark Field. Clark Field? Garret Merriam.
Garrett Merriam: I want to thank all of the members of the Commission for staying late. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. My name is Garret Merriam, I live at 152 Avenida Las Brisas, Evansville. I’m a professor of philosophy at USI, and I talk to thousands of students every year about moral and social issues such as these. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, that the moral arc of the universe is long, but bends towards justice. I ask my students to think about that quote when I ask them to imagine what they would say to members of this community 50 or 100 or 150 years ago as to what moral and social issues they would ask them to rethink. If they had the chance to implore those people to reimagine the history of this country, how would they try to push people in the right moral direction. The two things which inevitably come up when I ask them about this is discrimination against women and discrimination against racial minorities. Then I ask them to turn it around the other way, I ask them to imagine that their children or their grandchildren or their great grandchildren are talking to them from 50 or 100 or 150 years in the future and try to imagine what they would say to them about what moral issues and what social issues they wish we had done things different on. Now, my students have an incredible range of opinions on all sorts of different things; abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, they are all across the board, but the one thing in which there is near consensus on is gay rights. The rights of lesbian, gay, transgendered individuals. This is something where, everytime I teach it I am amazed that there is very little in the way of dissent from my students as we have seen there. Today we have seen much balance, very little balance in my classrooms. It’s not because I’m pushing them one way or the other, this is how they are coming to me. So, I ask the members of the Commission and everyone present here today to think about how history will judge you, about how they will look back on us. How your grandchildren will judge you, because the arguments that we have heard here today against this ordinance are precisely the same arguments, to the letter, that we have heard against civil rights legislation at every single step of the way. People say, white children would be in danger if they have to share bathrooms or dressing rooms with black children. It’s unclean for black people to drink from the water fountains as white people. Interracial marriage is a choice, so it’s okay to discriminate against people in such marriages. It’s a threat to our schools, our businesses and our churches to pass civil rights laws. It’s unbiblical for the racist to (Inaudible), but this is not about hate, this is about my right not to be subject to their deviant lifestyle. It is a threat to the freedom of religion and a violation of the First Amendment because God tells me that these people are not human beings, they are an abomination. I firmly believe that if Dr. King were here today he would tell everyone that no human being is an abomination. Gay people, no less than black people are human beings, as are lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, disabled people, elderly people and all of the people that this ordinance protects. They are human beings, their rights are my rights. They are your rights. They are your children’s rights, they are the rights of your brothers and sisters. You do not want to go down in history as being against human rights, because when you do so you strike fear and anger and pain into the hearts of your brothers and sisters. The moral arc of history is long, but it does bend towards justice, and away from bigotry and hate. It’s time for Vanderburgh County to bend with it. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Noonie Adams.
Noonie Adams: Noonie. Hello. I’m a little nervous. I don’t do speaking. So, my name is Noonie Adams. I live at 707 Southeast Third. I’m a downtowner. I’m a formal, excuse me, a former Boonville resident, so I can really sympathize with the close mindedness that goes on in here. I can understand it. Reading books and venturing out is scary. So, let’s see, I’m for the ordinance, and I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about God, and I’m a big believer in God. I give my ten percent of my belongings, every week. I donate, I give money, I also give my time in helping with others. I practice unlicensed therapy for free. I also do a little bit of performance child and adult. So, being a God fearing person, a person who loves God, I do believe that God has created us in God’s image, and it’s kind of disheartening to hear so many males speak on God’s behalf where the word God itself comes from the word Elohim which has dual powers as he and she. That’s actually a fact, so, for you all that practice Christianity and Judaism that don’t look back to its history and linguistics, sorry, I’m nervous, it’s just like you need to think it’s a he, or a lot of us thinks he’s like a white man, but actually you’re worshipping something closely to a Siamese shem. Which is fine, because there’s a lot of Siamese people here. One out of 100 people born are intersexed, or what some of us call hermaphrodites or shems. So, that is in God’s image. Also, I hope that there’s no elderly, disabled, gays here, that would really suck for them. Let’s see, no, and I understand like the fear to the health fear of gays spreading disease, spreading AIDS, and it’s common knowledge now that most gays are riddled with AIDS, just like how it’s common knowledge to say every Caucasian here has probably heard that AIDS has come from an African having a sex with a chimpanzee. So, that was common knowledge then, but now it’s all the gays that have it. I wonder what tomorrow who it will be. Oh, and my last thing, fear with the bathrooms, I understand that fear. I have never heard of the Human Resource group, is that what they’re called?
Robert Dion: Human Relations.
Noonie Adams: Relations, sorry.
President Abell: Ma’am, would you please address your comments into the microphone?
Noonie Adams: Oh, yes, sorry. Human Relations group, so I’ve never heard of them until today, but I’ve had like a really confusing, scary incident one time in California, by the way, I went to like a nice diner and when I had to use the ladies room, both doors were labeled “robots” and “aliens”. So, my fear had come true. Guys I want to thank you. God Bless.
President Abell: Thank you. Robert Kirkpatrick.
Robert Kirkpatrick: Good evening. My name is Robert Kirkpatrick. I live at 219 North Rotherwood Avenue, Vanderburgh County, Evansville, Indiana. The first thing I want to address is I was once married, I was straight, but coming from a family that’s divided, Catholics on one side, Baptists on the other, I was disowned by my Baptist parents. They told me, quote unquote, from their own mouths I would burn in hell because of the lifestyle I live. My stepmom and my dad, who are devout Catholics, love me and they love my boyfriend with all of their might. All they want out of us, out of their two kids, me and my sister both, who are gay and we’re very proud of it, is to be happy. For somebody to tell me that I can’t be happy in my own job, which I was sexually discriminated against in my former job and I did file a complaint with the Evansville Human Rights Commission, and it was taken straight to the jobs. I got fired for standing up for my rights, and it was not right. I fought for this country for four years in the United States Air Force, and I think if I quote, we did take an oath to defend this country no matter what the cost was. There was no divided line, and in the Pledge of Allegiance it does say indivisible, okay, this country is not divided anymore. This is not the Civil War. The last time I was taught by my father, who also is a Veteran, 14 years in the Air Force, you love people for who they are, not who you want them to be. You know, before I got with my boyfriend I was weak. I had no backbone. I wasn’t in with the community. I was very close minded, very sheltered. Since I’ve met him I’ve stood up for myself time and time again. You know, every time I get called a faggot to my face, I just shrug it off, because of how he’s taught me and how my grandparents taught me, and they are very old fashioned. For somebody to sit there and say that they don’t want this bill to be passed, it’s ludicrous. You know, yeah, it does state in the Bible that a man should lay with a woman, but it’s up to the person to decide whether or not that’s what they want to do. Society today is still trying to cram it down people’s throats that you should live a certain way and be close minded. That’s why my mom and my stepdad told me that if my boyfriend ever came down with me, they would shoot him on the spot. That’s in Texas, a state far bigger than Indiana. I’m not, for one thing, you know, I’m just kind of, I guess, frustrated at the same time that, you know, everywhere I go I hear people getting discriminated against. You know, if we’re going to move into a modern century, we need to put the past behind us and move on, become adults, not feebling little kids fighting over like a little piece of candy. For the elderly, I’ve got, my grandparents were discriminated against because of that stuff. My stepmom, a cancer survivor, she’s discriminated against because of the cancer. So, was my stepdad. He’s got congestive heart failure, people discriminate against him because of his obesity and the fact of his health. It ticks me off to the point to where I just feel like I want to scream at the people, but I don’t, because I am a better person. For people to sit there and belittle somebody or throw the Bible in their face, to me that is judging. They shouldn’t be judge, they should let God do the judging. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Chuck Meny. Chuck Meny?
Chuck Meny: Chuck Meny. My name is Chuck Meny. I live at 11229 Seib Road, Vanderburgh County. How long, how long, how long will it take until this human race gets over all of this horrible, horrible discrimination? We have had in the history of the human race nothing but war and the destruction of all kinds of people, every ethnic group is put under a microscope, and if they have a little bit something out of order, they’re subject to killing. I’m going to go into the religious thing a bit, because I’m a lifelong student of religion, I was raised in the Catholic faith, and I served in the Catholic faith for 20 years as a priest, and the Catholic church, using the Bible that everybody is quoting, killed millions of people with the inquisition and the burning of witches. This thing about the Bible and religion, people have no idea what’s in there. Very few Christians have any notion of who Jesus of Nazareth was, and supposedly He’s the founder of it all. Jesus sought out, Jesus sought out prostitutes, and the most marginalized people in His country. They were His close friends. The marginalized person, for example, the toll collector, the most marginalized people in His time, and when the toll collector and the Pharisee went up to the temple to pray, Jesus said the Pharisee, the poor guy who stood at the back of the church and was afraid to raise his head, he went away justified, the Pharisee who was the leading religious person of the day did not. All I’m saying is we live in a secular country, it has taken years and years and years and years to fight for the rights of different ethnic groups, of women, of blacks. We now have the Muslim thing going crazy in this country. It is time that we learn to live together. That means we’ve got to get rid of all this crazy stuff that is brought up, finding every possible way to disagree with our neighbor and to put somebody down because they don’t do what I do. Enough. Let’s pass the ordinance and get it done.
President Abell: Robin Ratcliff.
Robin Ratcliff: I’m Robin Ratcliff. I live at 1312 Parrett Street. I’ll make this sweet, short and sweet. I’m pro-child, pro-family, and I am against this ordinance. Thank you.
President Abell: Erika Taylor.
Erika Taylor: Good evening. I would like to also thank you for allowing this open dialogue. My name is Erika Taylor, my address is 10336 Driver Drive. I’m a member of the Human Relations Commission that proposed the ordinance you are considering here today. I’m also the CEO of a local non-profit, and my husband and I own a business in Vanderburgh County. I consider myself an ally to the LBGT community, and an overall advocate for social justice. But, today I come before you as a mother to two wonderful children, a daughter age 7 and a son age 9, who wants to guarantee that they are protected and valued by the county in which we choose to raise them. I would like to think that I’m raising my children in a community where they will be treated equally, regardless of their skin color, age, gender or sexual preference. I’m sad to say that this is simply not the case. Racism, hatred, discrimination and sexism do exist in Vanderburgh County. This ordinance revision will allow the HRC to investigate those injustices when they relate to employment or housing discrimination based on sexual preference or identity, among other categories. As you know, the process will not be mandatory for the employer, so, some may ask why then should we pursue this revision? I would tell them that the mere fact the ordinance includes sexual orientation and gender identity sends a message to me and all mothers. As a mother, I would know that if my daughter were someday denied employment because of her sexual orientation, or if my son were someday unable to secure housing because of his actual or perceived sexual orientation, Vanderburgh County cared enough to consider my children worthy of protection and consideration. The truth of the matter is, that everyday in America, and right here in Evansville, people are discriminated against in housing or employment simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This ordinance revision sends a message that prejudice and injustice will not be tolerated in Vanderburgh County. It shows that we value all of our citizens, not just those that may fit a certain ideal or norm. I’m going to skip all of my statistics because you guys want to go home and eat and so do I. No one should be evicted, be kept from living in certain areas, or pay rent simply because of who they are. Nor should anyone have to lie about who they are in order to find safe housing. For all of these reasons, the Fair Housing Act was recently amended to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As you know, the Human Relations Commission receives funding from HUD to investigate local housing discrimination claims. Just based on the comments here this evening, I just want to remind everybody, we’re not making a judgement call on to whether one’s sexual orientation is correct, or whether you agree with it, we’re simply guaranteeing that there is equal rights for all of Vanderburgh County’s citizens. So, please, I ask that you choose to be on the right side of history. It’s time for Vanderburgh County to pass this ordinance that confirms who we are as a community. Send the message that we are a community that will not tolerate discrimination, and that we’re a community where all residents are simply equal. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you.
President Abell: Please hold your applause. We’re trying to get through this and get out of here tonight. Jamie Morris. Matthew Paul Shepard. Anne McKim. Oh, are you here? Okay.
Matthew Paul Shepard: Hello. I’m Matthew Paul Shepard. A resident of 4724 Penfold Street, Vanderburgh County. I’m 18 years old. I’m a senior of Signature High School, just behind us. I’ve attended there all four years of my high school career. Before that I attended ten years at St. Benedict Cathedral School. I am a practicing Catholic, I have been for all 18 years of my life, an active member in the choir. However, I have faced a lot of discrimination in my 18 years of life. In my time in middle school, right as I was coming to terms with my own sexual orientation, I was bullied. I was discriminated against simply because I didn’t act like the typical guys should. I’m sure you can, or sure you know what I mean by the other “f” word. I was called that multiple times a day, every day of my 7th grade year, simply because I acted a little effeminate, a little too different. However, things did get better a little for me. Currently, I am employed with two businesses here in Evansville, and luckily I have not had to face discrimination because of my sexual orientation. I am gay, and I’m proud of that. Like I said, I have not had to face discrimination against that, because the employers that I have are very understanding and very accepting. However, I do know that there are people out there, that are like me, who are my age, a little older, even younger, that are going to be entering the workforce that will have to face the fear that they will be discriminated against, simply because they act a little different. I ask that you pass this ordinance to ensure that those people, those younger people who will be entering this workforce in the coming years, as the economy, or, yes, as the economy continues to recover, will not have to worry that they will be denied a job simply because of their sexual orientation. I have two nephews, twin boys, they are seven years old. I love them dearly. I don’t want them to grow up in a city where they have to fear that if they are, if they turn out to be gay, that they will have to fear that they will be denied employment or that they will be fired if it is revealed that they are gay. So, I ask that you pass this ordinance for future generations. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Anne McKim.
Anne McKim: I’m Anne McKim. I live at 314 South Barker. I have no notes, I’ll be brief. I’m here tonight because every single thing that I do, I do with my children in mind. They are three and one, and I want to tell them some day that I stood up with a group of people who deserved equal rights and added my voice. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to respect myself. I just ask you, Commissioners, I ask you to do that too. There’s nothing that I can do to change what you do, but I ask you to do the right thing. Thank you.
President Abell: Thank you. Sarah Underwood. Evan Phillips and then Gary May.
Evan Phillips: Evan Phillips, 611 West Berkely Avenue. As a homosexual man, I’ve been living out for four years, but before then, I was raised Catholic, deeply devoted to my faith, and was actually planning on going to the monastery, and I dealt and I prayed so hard for Him to change me, but it’s not a choice. I’ve attempted suicide countless times to fix myself. My freshmen year of high school I realized that I liked boys, and when I came out of the closet I told myself I would never be discriminated against in my life. Of course, I can’t change the laws, but that’s why I’m here, to show you my support for the laws. I want to change the future, to make it better for the people. Sorry, I refuse to be discriminated against, even though it happens to me every single day, I can’t....like I’ve been called the “f” word, by my own family members too, but I refuse, and, I mean, just because I like guys why should I be different than any of my heterosexual peers?
President Abell: Thank you. Our last speaker is Gary May. Thank you for waiting, Gary.
Gary May: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you. My name is Gary May, again, 2699 Briarcliff Drive, Newburgh, Indiana. Next month, on the 12th actually, will mark the 44th year that I’ve been a person with a disability. I’m a retired Marine, having been placed on the permanent disability retirement list in October of 1968 after encountering a land mine in Vietnam. Since that time, I have experienced untold episodes of discrimination that have nothing at all to do with overt hatred toward me. As far as I know, have nothing to do with somebody’s understanding of the Bible, or have anything to do with anything else of the likes of which we’ve heard a lot about today. I think, most of the episodes of discrimination that I faced in those 44 years is because of ignorance and lack of awareness. I think this ordinance, even though it has major flaws, can strike a big blow for awareness. As some of the speakers have said, they, it’s consistent with the kind of community that they envision living in or raising their children in. That’s not to be taken lightly, I don’t think. Back in 1990 when the debate was underway about the Americans with Disabilities Act, many of the same concerns that we’ve heard today had been expressed. What’s this going to mean? Who’s exempt? Who’s included? What if it bankrupts a company? It all had to do with fear mongering and unreasonable myths that were offered by people who opposed this new level of awareness. Certainly there are many flaws with the ADA as well. When I served in Vietnam, and when I paid the price I paid in Vietnam, it was not for me to return to this country and watch people continue to be discriminated against, or to be discriminated against myself. It was not for the shrinkage of rights and opportunities, it was for a minimum, the sustaining of rights and opportunities, and ideally the expansion. I see this as an opportunity for the county to speak and to speak powerfully and effectively, if largely symbolically, on behalf of historically disenfranchised populations that live and work and play and want to be happy and not messed with in this county. Thank you all very much, I appreciate it.
President Abell: Thank you. Commissioners, before we adjourn, a couple of housekeeping duties. We have a stack of letters here, some in favor of the ordinance, some against. I would like, Madelyn, for you to make these a part of the permanent record.
Commissioner Melcher: Are these new letters? Are these new?
President Abell: These are all of the letters we’ve gotten.
Commissioner Melcher: All during the time?
President Abell: Yeah.
Commissioner Melcher: Okay, so, that’s counting e-mails and everything?
President Abell: Most of us have already seen these letters. They will be made a part of the permanent record. Commissioners, what is your pleasure about the meeting on April the 9th?
Commissioner Kiefer: Madam President, I mean, I think we originally stated that, you know, if it was, we would have that meeting if it was necessary, or if it was needed. I feel like I got a pretty good sampling of how people feel about this issue, both for and against. You know, the only thing I would think, if, you know, if we need anything else it would be just if there was an attorney representing each group or something that they wanted to address the Commissioners at maybe one of our Commissioners meetings or something. But, I mean, I don’t know if we need it unless you think that there’s people who weren’t able to get here tonight, but, I feel like, personally, I got a good sampling of how people feel about this issue, what the pros are, what the cons are, what people feel and what they don’t feel on it. But, you know, obviously it’s, you know, I’m only one person.
President Abell: Mr. Melcher?
Commissioner Melcher: I just want to make sure we’re inclusive and transparent out here. I’m not against coming back for another meeting, because there might be some people that couldn’t make this one, but if you make it on the 9th, I would rather start at 3:00.
President Abell: Can you be here at 3:00?
Commissioner Melcher: I can be here at 3:00.
Commissioner Kiefer: I’m okay with that. I have no–
Commissioner Melcher: I think it would, in fairness to everybody, because I know there’s some people who told me they couldn’t be here, and one of them is the person that’s over the apartment consortium or something. He wanted to be here, but he’s out of town today. So, I said, well, you can just speak at the next meeting then, but I told him the second. So, we’ll have to get back with him. If it’s the 9th, if we can start at 3:00 and make it 3:00 to 5:00–
President Abell: Okay.
Commissioner Melcher: – so, you can’t close this meeting, you’ve just got to recess this meeting.
President Abell: Yes, we would just be recessing this. Any of you who would like to come back on the 9th, you may come back to hear what we will be discussing. Since we three Commissioners are not allowed to talk to one another outside of a public forum, it may be that most of that discussion on the 9th will be from people we, as a matter of fact it will probably likely be from people we have not heard from yet, and the three Commissioners, because it will be our opportunity to ask questions of Mr. Kent and the Human Relations Commission without violating the Open Door Law. So, we will recess until 3:00 p.m. on April 9th , at which time we will hear further testimony....just a moment, and we will have a discussion with our attorney and Mr. Kent will both be here. Yes, Mr. Kiefer?
Commissioner Kiefer: Just to make it clear, before we recess, we’re not soliciting, I mean, people that have already spoken tonight won’t need to speak again.
President Abell: No, they shouldn’t be here to speak again. You can come listen, but this is for people who could not be here tonight, who had already been notified that we would have two meetings, so they are anticipating that they will speak on the 9th. So, that’s who will speak that night, and, again, it will be the perfect forum for us to have discussion among ourselves.
Commissioner Melcher: So, that would be like from 3:00 to 5:00?
President Abell: 3:00 to 5:00. We will end it by 5:00 p.m.
Commissioner Kiefer: That sounds good to me.
President Abell: Okay, we recess until April the 9th at 3:00 p.m.
(The meeting was recessed at 7:00 p.m.)
Those in Attendance:
Marsha Abell Joe Kiefer Stephen Melcher
Joe Harrison, Jr. Marissa Nichoalds Madelyn Grayson
Robert Dion Diane Clements Robert Jones
Berniece Tirmenstein Martha Stout Kelley Coures
Linsdey Fehribach Jon Barrell Brenda Bergwitz
Betty Polk Steven Walker Wally Paynter
Phil Hoy Alex Kessler Rod Murray
Kari Barron Charlene Braker Caitlin Woolsey
Eliot Colin Amie McKibban Molly Greene
Mary Ellen Van Dyke Keith Hoeftle Ashley Summers
John Radez Rick Barter Cathie Francis
Brittney Blane Mike Pfohl Katie Griffin
Marian Yoder Ryan Baker Glen Kissel
Jim Braker David Peterson Joshua Claspell
Jessica Jones Tim Thompson Dave Schwambach
Levon Dozier David Kent Andy Ozete
Kaitlin Thompson Lisa Mueller Bill Mueller
Alan Leibunguth Sherry Burdette Mary Bennett
Gary May Garret Merriam Noonie Adams
Chuck Meny Robin Ratcliff Erika Taylor
Matthew Paul Shepard Anne McKim Evan Phillips
Robert Kirkpatrick Others Unidentified Members of Media
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Marsha Abell, President
Joe Kiefer, Vice President
Stephen Melcher, Member
(Recorded and transcribed by Madelyn Grayson.)