Ken de la Bastide, Time for Anderson to consider RFRA changes, The Herald Bulletin

It’s time that Anderson and Madison County considered adopting an ordinance guaranteeing human rights for all of their residents.
Since the Indiana General Assembly passed and amended the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which cast a negative spotlight on the Hoosier State, numerous other communities have added language to existing ordinances or amended existing legislation to guarantee protections for sexual orientation and gender identity residents.
Carmel, Muncie, Lafayette, Bloomington and Hammond are among the Hoosier cities that took action to protect the human rights of everyone.
Adding such legal protections for all residents of Anderson and Madison County has not even appeared on the radar screens of local officials.
Maybe the respective city councils in Anderson, Elwood and Alexandria and the Madison County Commissioners and Council didn’t want to broach the topic in an election year.
Granted, there are people in our communities and throughout Indiana opposed to adding the guarantees based on religious beliefs.
But our nation was founded on the separation of church and state as clearly stated in the U.S. and state constitutions.
No matter what a person’s religious beliefs are, we should all want to ensure that every citizen is afforded equal human rights.
The six candidates running for at-large seats on the Anderson City Council during a forum this past week sponsored by the League of Women Voters and The Herald Bulletin were asked if they would support legislation providing the legal guarantees to all city residents.
All six indicated they would support such legislation if it came before the city council.
“I don’t believe in discrimination of any kind,” Democrat Greg Graham said.
When asked if he would introduce such legislation, Graham said he would if elected to the council.
Democrat Rebecca Crumes said she would support the legislation because simply put “it’s the law.”
Republican Tammy Rimer said it would be difficult because she was a Christian but indicated support.
“There is a reason we have representatives,” she said of supporting such a measure to protect all residents.
But after Jan. 1, there will be at least three new members of the council elected, two in the at-large races and one from the 1st District. An ordinance protecting the rights of all citizens should be introduced.
With Anderson attracting more foreign companies to the community, guaranteeing the rights of all residents should be a priority so that the city is viewed as welcoming to all.
It would be tragic if the city lost the opportunity for future jobs because a stand wasn’t taken on the issue.
I’m hopeful that a large number of citizens, not just supporters of one mayoral candidate or another, take the time to attend Tuesday’s mayoral debate in person or view it on Anderson TV.
Incumbent Republican Kevin Smith and Democratic Party challenger Thomas Broderick Jr. will discuss the issues facing Anderson for 90 minutes starting at 6:30 p.m. in the city hall auditorium.

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