CARMEL — A proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was tabled this week in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel following a push by social conservatives, but the decision may be short lived.
Luci Snyder, chairwoman of the Carmel City Council's finance committee, set aside the ordinance on Thursday after committee members heard from Eric Miller, the executive director of Advance America. The socially conservative advocacy group has fought efforts to extend such protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
Miller said he was concerned about the ordinance's legal wording, including the definitions of terms such as gender identity, sexual orientation and religious worship.
"In my opinion, the ordinance raises a number of serious legal questions and concerns that need to be addressed," he said.
Snyder said the ordinance could leave the city open to lawsuits, and that she would work with city legal staff to address those issues.
However, City Council President Rick Sharp said he plans a vote on the measure if City Council members are prepared to approve it during their Monday meeting, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Sharp, who supports the ordinance, said the ordinance didn't need to have the legal definitions of the terms cited by Miller — because those terms are adequately defined in the dictionary.
"This has been sitting out there for a month," Sharp said. "If there were grave concerns, we could have scheduled a special meeting."
Similar ordinances have recently been passed in Indiana in Columbus, Zionsville, Terre Haute, Hammond and Muncie. Those ordinances joined long-standing LGBT civil rights protections in about a dozen other Indiana communities, including Indianapolis.
Indiana does not have statewide LGBT civil rights protections, but a growing list of groups that are ratcheting up pressure on the Legislature to approve such protections.
The debate over LGBT protections was initially sparked by a national uproar that began when Republican Gov. Mike Pence in March signed the state's new religious objections law, which critics said allowed people to discriminate against LGBT residents. The GOP-dominated Legislature later amended that law to bar businesses from using it as a legal defense to refuse to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations on religious grounds.