CARMEL, Ind. -- The Carmel City Council is expected to vote on an anti-discrimination ordinance at its meeting Monday night. The proposal was first introduced to the council in August when it heard three hours of public testimony for and against the law that would provide anyone protection against discrimination, including the LGBT community.
It was after that initial meeting that council decided to send the ordinance to committee, where it underwent a number of amendments. The most controversial change gives businesses a warning instead of an immediate $500 a day fine that was part of the original draft.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard says the amendment is a bad idea. "It gives maybe a very egregious case a free pass," he said. "The city attorney can choose to do that in any situation under the law as it was originally written but to have a mandatory free pass, we don’t give free passes for murder, rape, theft."
Brainard commented on the changed ordinance after an economic development announcement Monday morning. A new health tech startup from New York is expanding to Carmel, and Brainard says the anti-discrimination ordinance is essential to attracting out of state companies.
"Having this tool, having this statement and having it be part of the law, so there’s no question about our resolve, is extremely important to good future economic development," Brainard said.
The measure is in response to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. If it passes, Carmel will join a handful of other Hoosier cities and communities that have similar ordinances in place.