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.
Council urged to amend Human Rights Code - South Bend TribuneJamie Loo, Tribune Staff Writer
As printed in the South Bend Tribune, 4/12/06
Council urged to amend Human Rights Code
SOUTH BEND -- Supporters of an amendment to add sexual orientation to the city Human Rights Code urged the Common Council to take action on the issue.
The proposal wasn't on the agenda Monday but was brought up during privilege of the floor. In recent months, supporters of adding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered civil rights to the city anti-discrimination code have questioned why the council has not taken action on the issue, known as the GLBT amendment, proposed in July 2004. The Common Council also has solicited public comment on the GLBT amendment over the past year.
Catherine Pittman, a member of South Bend Equality, urged the council to think about contributions to the community from people who are GLBT, instead of focusing on their sexual orientation. Members of the GLBT community are "co-workers, neighbors and friends" who work in offices and factories and volunteer in churches and schools.
"These are people who just want to live their lives and offer their talents to the community," Pittman said.
Robin Beck -- an owner of Another Book Store, a GLBT resource center in Mishawaka -- said she hears "horror stories every day" from people who have been fired from their jobs or couldn't get housing because of their sexual orientation. Beck said including GLBT rights in the ordinance will make South Bend a better place to live and work, attracting employers to this area. Beck said other cities such as Indianapolis and Lafayette already have adopted this language into city codes.
City resident Mary Porter said the council received a report on GLBT discrimination in employment, education, housing and public accommodations last April. Porter reminded the council about local interviews included in the report detailing specific incidents. A lesbian suffering from an asthma attack had trouble in the emergency room because her partner wasn't allowed to give the attending nurse medical information. Porter said that in another case, a gay man was told to end his relationship with another man or risk losing his job.
"Because South Bend does not prohibit such discrimination, he had no remedy," she said.
An argument against the amendment is that it is unenforceable, which South Bend resident Rhonda Redman said doesn't make sense. The federal and state human rights codes for employment include sexual orientation and there have been no problems enforcing those rules. Redman said the Human Rights Commission and staff is experienced in investigating discrimination cases and would enforce the code. GLBT citizens should have a right to approach the Human Rights Commission with problems, she said.
"Please empower these citizens to seek a remedy when they feel they've been treated unfairly," Redman said. "South Bend is a community concerned about fairness and justice. We want our community to be safe and fair for all its citizens."
The council met in executive session Tuesday night to discuss the proposed amendment, which hasn't been formally presented to the council. Council President Timothy Rouse, D-at large, said in a memorandum that the issue was being discussed behind closed doors "in light of the threat of litigation."
Staff writer Jamie Loo:
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