After a heated six hour debate on the
issue, the Goshen, Indiana City Council voted last week against
altering its civil rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination based
on sexual orientation or gender identity (transgender protections),
local broadcaster WSBT reported.
The meeting's venue was moved to the
local high school to accommodate an anxious crowd of 150 residents
and extra police protection was provided.
Councilmember Chic Lantz, an original
co-sponsor of the ordinance, altered her vote to defeat the measure
in a 4 to 3 vote. Lantz said she feared the measure would become the
subject of a lawsuit.
“I don't want Goshen to have to go
through that,” Lantz said.
At least one attorney from the
Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund testified at the hearing. Former
area resident Glen Lavy is a senior counselor at the group that is
defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in California and has
sued against a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law in Cleveland,
“This newly proposed ordinance has
not passed public scrutiny and caters to political special
interests,” Lavy said in a statement before testifying. “Laws
should protect rights, not grant special privileges based strictly on
someone's sexual confusion. The City of Goshen should not enact laws
that reduce safety for women and children in public areas and also
open up another avenue for attacks on marriage.”
Lavy was referring to the conservative
argument that transgender protections would allow sexual predators to
stake out public restrooms. Opponents in Massachusetts, New
Hampshire and North Dakota have dubbed similar efforts “bathroom
bills” and urged lawmakers to flush them down the toilet.
“This is a bill that begins to
confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of
trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that
means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery,
senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action,
said in a radio message urging North Dakota voters to oppose a
transgender protections bill.
Opponents in Goshen say they oppose the
plan on religious grounds.
“By its very nature, homosexual
actions are intrinsically evil,” said Goshen resident Robert
Roeder. “This is not to say that all homosexuals are evil. We all
Opponents of similar measures in other
cities have loudly protested the bills.
City leaders in Anchorage, Alaska
passed a gay protections bill last month, only to have it axed by the
mayor. After seeing the firestorm of protest the measure sparked,
councilmembers decided against attempting to overturn the mayor's
veto. Opponents in Kalamazoo, Michigan have successfully campaigned
to put a similar measure approved by councilmembers up for a public
Supporters in Goshen, however, say the
fight is far from over.
“This isn't a dead issue for me,”
Jeremy Stutsman, who sponsored the bill, said. “It's going to come