INDIANA: Kokomo City Council Advances LGBT Rights Bill By 5-4 Vote After Heated Public Discussion [VIDEO]

The Kokomo Tribune reports:

In front of a crowd filling both council chambers and the City Hall lobby, Kokomo’s Common Council voted Monday to approve legislation that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens from various forms of discrimination.

After the 5-4 vote in favor of the ordinance’s first reading, the council will hold a second reading at 6 p.m. March 14 in City Hall. Voting against the ordinance Monday were Democrats Bob Cameron and Mike Wyant, and Republicans Cindy Sanders and Tom Miklik. Council President Bob Hayes, Vice President Mike Kennedy, and members Steve Whikehart, Donnie Haworth and Janie Young voted in favor.

Addressed early in the night was the issue of religious protections, which would exempt from the ordinance any religious society or order, association, organization, institution or business that qualifies as a 501(c) organization, one that is officially associated with a church.

Charles Riley, pastor of Abundant Life Church, expressed his fears that the council would later eliminate the protections, saying “the exemption process cannot hold water.” Riley also noted his worries that the council would change the definition of a church or religious organization.

The most controversial, and oft-mentioned, issue of the night, though, had to do with sexual criminals abusing the gender identity protections to enter a restroom or locker room of the opposite sex. Similar to the comments made by many in attendance, Demetrius Warren, a Kokomo resident, spoke about his concerns that pedophiles may use the ordinance to abuse children in public restrooms.

“I have a 14-year-old daughter and if I saw a guy walking into the bathroom after my 14-year-old daughter, I promise you somebody else is walking in there after her after him,” he said. “He’s not going in there with my 14-year-old daughter. I don’t know if he truly believes he is a woman. I wouldn’t know that.