MUNSTER | A group of residents believe town officials should create a civil rights ordinance to address potential matters of discrimination, particularly those that may affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
As several residents stood in support, Munster resident Paul Rotatori floated the idea at Monday’s Town Council meeting. Although he was unaware of any discriminatory practices or incidents within Munster’s public or private sectors, he urged town officials to “stay ahead of the curve” and be seen as a welcoming community.
Town Council President Andy Koultourides must have anticipated Rotatori’s comments at the meeting, having prepared a “personal” statement to that effect.
“I believe there is a sense on the Town Council that creating a civil rights commission with the power to subpoena parties, hold administrative hearings and asses fines and penalties may be an overreaction at this time,” Koultourides said. “There is a potential for unforeseen consequences and conflicts that may not make such a commission a worthwhile alternative at present.”
He added Munster is a diverse community and he is not aware of instances of discrimination in the general community.
“The town of Munster does not discriminate and adheres to all federal and state laws regarding this matter,” he said.
Rotatori said after the meeting he was “disappointed” and “shocked” by Koultourides’ response. He noted that neither he nor knew of any of the residents there in support were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
“It was thanks but no thanks,” Rotatori said. “He (Koultourides) thinks there’s no issue, but it just isn’t an issue, yet, that there’s no reason to do something proactively. We elect our leaders to be forward thinking. You don’t wait until there is a problem.”