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Indianapolis kills gay rights proposal

Indianapolis kills gay rights proposal

A proposal that would have prevented Indianapolis city employers, real estate agencies, and landlords from discriminating against gays was defeated by the city-county council Monday. The proposal, which failed 18-11, would have imposed stricter standards than federal and state laws by prohibiting Indianapolis companies with six or more employees from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Jackie Nytes, a Democratic council member and supporter, said she thought the council was trying to "expand a policy against bias" and not trying to change people's beliefs. "We can argue 'moral' or 'not moral' all night long," she said. Job hiring and firing decisions should be based on merit and job-related factors only, Nytes said. "It's a fundamental fairness issue. The other thing is, I truly do believe it's an economic development issue." But opponent Eric Miller, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate and founder of the conservative group Advance America, previously said that government should not tell businesses who to hire. Scott Schneider, a Republican, said the proposal was the worst idea he had seen during his 5 1/2 years on the council. "We are taking a certain set of the population that defines itself solely by behavioral choice, and we elevate them to an extra status," Schneider said. Police escorted gay rights supporter Rick Lisby of Indianapolis from the meeting after the vote when he stood up and shouted at the council. "I have a family, I have a daughter, a son, both in college," he said after the meeting. "I can't believe that this city makes us out to be such horrible people when we benefit this city." The proposal also would have prohibited real estate agents and landlords from hindering gay or transgender people from buying or renting a home. "What we have now is a dead proposal," council vice president Joanne Sanders said. "And there are a lot of people who are ostracized from their rights." Other Indiana communities, including Bloomington and Lafayette, have approved similar measures. Indianapolis code now prohibits discrimination based on disability, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, or veteran status. An Equal Opportunity Advisory Board was created under then-mayor William Hudnut to hear complaints, which would have been made public under the failed proposal. Also, the deadline to file a complaint would have been extended. (AP)

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