Guerrilla Gay Bar to Honor Local Leaders Who Helped Pass Human Rights Ordinance

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Local leaders involved in the effort to pass South Bend’s Human Rights Ordinance will be honored this weekend at Guerrilla Gay Bar.

“This is the first month of our new effort to leverage the power and size of our group for more community engagement,” says Willow Wetherall, one of the organizers of Guerrilla Gay Bar, a monthly event that “takes over” a local bar or restaurant.

The Human Rights Ordinance bans discrimination in education, employment, and access to public accommodations based on race, color, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry. An amendment to the 1960s-era ordinance passed in 2012 to add sexual orientation and gender identity.

Councilmembers Oliver Davis, Fred Ferlic, Gavin Ferlic, Valerie Schey, Tim Scott and Karen White backed the ordinance. It was signed into law by Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The Common Council had failed in prior years to pass the updated ordinance but succeeded after a new slate of Council candidates was elected in the 2011 election cycle.

Community activists and local leaders will be among those honored as part of the 3rd anniversary celebration. Confirmed honorees include Catherine Pittman, Charlotte Pfeifer, Rhonda Redman, Mary Porter, Maureen Lafferty, Elena Wake, Gavin Ferlic, Stacy Davis, Randy Kelly, Tim Scott, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“It was a pleasant surprise to see an invitation to be recognized for my role in the changes to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to include those of the GLBT community,” says Tim Scott, who is now Council president. “It truly is an honor that people still remember all of us. To me, this was the right thing to do and a simple decision. As I said at the time; there is no room for discrimination in a forward-thinking city as well as the world. I will always be proud of being part of this change for inclusiveness in South Bend.”

This month’s Guerrilla Gay Bar takes place at The Exchange on Saturday, March 14 from 9 pm until 1:30 am. The Exchange is located at 112 W Jefferson Blvd in downtown South Bend.

The ceremony celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the Human Rights Ordinance will take place during the cocktail hour from 9 until 10 pm.

The organizers are encouraging an optional $5 donation to help support the work of Freedom Indiana, which is fighting several so-called “religious freedom” bills working their way through the state legislature.

As we reported in February, the bills being considered would allow businesses to discriminate against gays in Indiana. Other bills being considered would allow employment discrimination.

It’s not the first time that Guerrilla Gay Bar has raised money for a cause. They raised $175 in December for the Northern Indiana Food Bank and $250 for the LGBT Resources Center in February. Community activism will be a part of the event going forward.

“We are moving in the direction of doing a ‘cover for a cause’ each month selecting a different organization,” Wetherall says.

April’s event will include an invitation for Common Council and City Clerk candidates. May’s event will focus on LGBT community members who have made significant contributions to the arts.

Other upcoming Guerrilla Gay Bar events in 2015 will welcome religious leaders of open and affirming churches, as well as provide campus resources for LGBTQ students.

For more information on Guerrilla Gay Bar, you can visit their website at ggbsb.com or their Facebook page.

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