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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

South Bend, IN rejects ordinance

"Human rights amendment fails, 5-4 in South Bend
Council nixes sexual orientation, gender identity measure."

Following the vote, Catherine Pittman, a member of South Bend Equality, which fought for the bill's passage, said the group was disappointed but undeterred. "We're going to keep coming to Common Council," Pittman said. "There's no other place to go. We're going to continue to bring our concerns here."

Councilmember Ann Puzzello said No Special Rights, a group opposed to the bill, has said repeatedly it is "lovingly opposed" to the legislation. But Puzzello said it doesn't make sense to oppose equality. "We cannot lovingly oppose this right. It's discrimination and certainly has nothing to do with love," she said.

Councilmember David Varner said he felt the ordinance would create a protected class. Dieter said he felt the ordinance was shaky since there was no unified opinion on enforceability. The definition of sexual orientation is too broad, Kuspa said, and if passed could discriminate against those morally opposed to homosexuality. Councilmember Timothy Rouse repeated the oath of office he took as a council member, which he said didn't include making history or becoming a "trailblazer."

Council members exchanged strong words during the afternoon personnel and finance committee meeting. Varner said the city should wait until something is done on a state or federal level. "You're talking about sweeping it under the rug and forgetting about it," Kelly said. "No, sir," Varner replied.

"You know as well as I do, David, the way the state and federal government operate," Councilmember Roland Kelly said. "We have to start somewhere and I think it's important that we start locally. ... It's important to me we make a statement about human rights."

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