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South Bend Council Pulls Controversial Meeting Video

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Sep 1, 2010 5:30PM

2010_09_01_southbend.jpg A councilman in South Bend, Ind. - located a two-hour drive east of Chicago - is coming under fire for comments made about an LGBT community group in a video posted on that council's website.

The video, captured via the council's automated recording system before a July 12 committee meeting on an ordinance proposed to ban job discrimination against LGBT people, shows David Varner (pictured at right) describing his experience meeting with the Michiana GLBT Resource Center about his opposition to the bill to other council members. Varner describes the resource center as "those people" and made quotation marks in the air when describing the gay "friend" he brought with him to the meeting - because he didn't want to go there alone. The video, as well as all other videos of council meetings, have since been removed, pending a meeting with the recording program's vendor.

Varner told the South Bend Tribune, who have posted the video on their website -- you can also see it after the jump below -- he did not realize he was being recorded.

"That conversation wasn't meant to be, I suppose, politically correct," he said. "I didn't see that in any way, shape or form as offensive ... I guess if people decide they're going to be offended at anything, then they're going to be offended."

The bill was tabled indefinitely as its supporters were unable to drum up the votes it needed for passage. Indiana is one of 29 states where it remains legal to fire a gay or lesbian person due to their sexual orientation. It is also legal in 38 states to fire someone due to their gender identity. A federal bill granting LGBT job protections - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - has failed to gain much traction in recent years, but has been supported by President Obama.

In Illinois, our Human Rights Act, amended in 2006, prohibits discrimination against LGBT people in employment and public accommodation. That said, it's worth mentioning Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady, who's consistently polling well, has previously opposed LGBT job protections and also sponsored a bill to limit the act, allowing for certain faith-based non-profit organizations to discriminate against LGBT employees.