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Kokomo Council Approves LGBT Civil Rights

Mayor Greg Goodnight has said he will sign the law after 5-4 vote

The Kokomo City Council approved expanded protections for the LGBT community on a 5-4 vote (RTV6 photo)

Kokomo will be the latest city to offer civil rights protections to the LGBT community.

The Kokomo City Council voted 5-to-4 Monday night to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's human rights municipal code.  It was the second reading for the ordinance and the second 5-to-4 vote in two weeks after a sometimes contentious debate in front of standing room only council meetings.

Mayor Greg Goodnight has already said he will sign the measure - the Democratic mayor called for it during his 'State of the City' speech last month based on the legislature's refusal to consider a statewide LGBT law.  A bill to expand some rights to gays and lesbians statewide died in the state Senate this session.

Critics of the law included some business owners. "I'm sorry this ordinance makes me a target for saying no to a gay couple and losing my viability," one said at a previous meeting.  They were especially upset with the potential for fines of up to $2,000 for a person who discriminates, even though the fine was already part of the civil rights law based on race, religion, sex or disability.   

Supporters compared the proposal to the Civil Rights movement for African-Americans in the 1960's.

"If we look back at our history 60 years ago, we were having these same discussions over water fountains, bathrooms and restaurants," a supporter said. "We do not want to repeat that history. We need to make history by promoting equality."

The new law also bans discrimination based on marital status, age or veteran status.

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Kokomo will be the latest city to offer civil rights protections to the LGBT community.

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