Evansville City Council Unanimously Against RFRA

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A typically divisive city council unites Monday night in a rare move. Council members unanimously approve a resolution to reject decisions made in Indianapolis.

It was a unanimous decision, and for some council members an enthusiastic yes, in favor of the resolution, urging state law makers to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

They say the law sends the wrong message to the nation and visitors.

City attorney Scott Danks reads a letter addressed to state leaders.

“City of Evansville, Indiana is opposed to the recent passage of Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as it is not a true representation of our city as a welcoming and inclusive place, and is bad for local business.”

Evansville joins other Indiana cities making similar moves. Indianapolis, Portage, Muncie, Martinsville, and New Albany have all urged for a repeal – or made recent city ordinances directly opposing the RFRA.

“Until sexual orientation, LGBT issues are a protected class, they will continue to be discriminated against,” says Councilman Conor O’Daniel, “And that’s a fact and not just a theory.”

Evansville passed an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2011 which offers some protection for LGBT, Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley believes it’s not enough.

“Because we lack sexual orientation and sexual identity as protected classes state-wide, our ordinance has no teeth,” she says.

The city council will send its strongly-worded message to Indianapolis, a move Tri-State Alliance President Wally Paynter agrees with. “If we repeal the law it can help restore our image.”

But Jim Breaker doesn’t believe the resolution is necessary.

“It’s not about discrimination against any particular group, it’s about government overreach,” Breaker says, “There’s no need for a resolution because we already know that we as citizens should all be treated the same.”

City council is expecting Mayor Lloyd Winnecke to sign the letter before sending it to Governor Pence, and Indiana House and Senate leaders.

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