Tuesday, July 25, 2006

South Bend Equality Supporters Not Going Away

Although the South Bend Common Council narrowly defeated a gay rights ordinance earlier this month, supporters of the ordinance from South Bend Equality tell council members that they're not going away. Wearing buttons that read "Still Not Protected", about 20 supporters gathered at Monday night's meeting to express their disappointment with the council's 5-4 vote against the adoption of the human rights ordinance. The South Bend Tribune's Jamie Loo writes about what supporters had to say during the council's privilege of the floor:

Mishawaka resident David Carter, who owns property in South Bend, said the council's decision on this issue is "egregious." Discrimination against gays in employment, housing and education is still happening as well as gay bashing in the city. Carter said he has a friend in South Bend who was severely beaten for being gay.

"Council members (Charlotte) Pfeifer, (Roland) Kelly, (Ann) Puzzello and (Al) Kirsits, your vote was just, proper and the right thing to do. I leave you with two words: Thank you," Carter said. "Council members (Derek) Dieter, (David) Varner, (Erv) Kuspa, (Timothy) Rouse and (Karen) White, no matter how you try to explain your vote, the fact is you voted in favor of wrongful discrimination against gay people.

"You have sent a message that it's OK to discriminate and sent a signal that it's OK to assault gay people. I leave you with three words: Shame on you."

Council President Rouse, D-at large, answered Carter's strong words immediately after Carter left the lectern.

"We need to make it clear that this body will not stand for personal attacks against anyone sitting here," Rouse said. "If that's what you intend to do, you need to cease and desist."

"It's not an attack, this is fact," Carter said from his seat.

Robert Holmer said when he discussed his support for the ordinance at his workplace, Wal-Mart, one of his co-workers became uncomfortable. The employee reported him to a manager and said Holmer seemed to have "gay tendencies." Holmer, who is heterosexual, said Wal-Mart protects employees from sexual orientation discrimination. But if he worked anywhere else in the city, Holmer said he could've lost his job because of his co-worker's complaint.

Redman thanked all of the council members for their hard work on the issue, particularly Pfeifer and Kelly for sponsoring the ordinance. As a child, her mother taught her that "anything that is worthwhile is worth fighting for," she said. Redman said it's sad gays have to fight for the right to be treated fairly."But I would add too that if it takes a fight, then that's what my mom taught me to do. And that's what I will have to continue to do. So thank you, all of you, for all your hard work. I'd like to tell you that it's over," she said "But I'm afraid I don't think it is yet."

"Is there another (speaker)," Rouse asked looking into the audience in council chambers.The question was met with silence, then Rouse slamming the

"Council is adjourned," he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid that a council member is called on the carpet for their vote. Do they think they are immune to verbal attack? If so, then they are not suitable for public office where public policy is discussed and voted on!