Three fundamental concerns are driving the formation of the new citizens organization:
I. The negative impact of special rights initiatives on all businesses and property owners, with a particularly negative impact on faith- based and faith-inspired businesses and property owners.
II. The negative impact of special rights initiatives on every citizen's constitutionally protected rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.
III. The negative impact of the practice of homosexuality on the individuals who practice it and on the rest of the society.
The main multifaceted emphasis of the group is to defend Traditional Marriage as 'between one man and one woman', to respond to the controversy at the University of Notre Dame regarding homosexual activism at several levels, to respond to 'special rights for homosexuals' ordinances as they come forward in the Region and to facilitate help and ministry for those suffering from the ill effects of the homosexual lifestyle.
7/11/06 Human rights amendment fails, 5-4Council nixes sexual orientation, gender identity measure.
By JAMIE LOO
July 11, 2006
SOUTH BEND -- It could've been a night for the Common Council to make history, said Council Member Charlotte Pfeifer, D-2nd.
Instead, after a four-hour hearing and vote, it ended in a 5-4 defeat of an amendment which would've added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's anti-discrimination code.
The five council members who voted against the amendment were Derek Dieter, D-1st; David Varner, R-5th; Erv Kuspa, D-6th; Timothy Rouse, D-at large, and Karen White, D-at large. Voting in favor of the amendments were Pfeifer, Roland Kelly, D-3rd; Ann Puzzello, D-4th; and Al "Buddy" Kirsits, D-at large.
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. The council could've made the choice to pass the amendments to allow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons to bring their concerns to the Human Rights Commission. The group will continue to fight for GLBT civil rights in this community, Pittman said.
"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."
Before the vote, Pfeifer and Kelly said the research and dialogue for the amendments have taken about two years. The bill is about civil rights, not about the acceptance of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people, they said.
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.
Kirsits agreed, and said although the majority of comments he received from the public were civil, he received a few that were violent and hateful.
"I certainly feel we need a public policy so that those who have the violence and hatred don't act on it," he said.
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.
Rouse repeated the oath of office he took as a council member, which he said didn't include making history or becoming a "trailblazer."
"I don't believe anyone is saying we support discrimination but there are a number of issues we still need to address," White said.
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," 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."
Staff writer Jamie Loo:
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