FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne City Council voted to introduce a resolution that opposes government-required COVID-19 vaccine passports at Tuesday’s meeting. Councilmen Jason Arp (4th district) and Paul Ensley (1st district) are the resolution’s co-sponsors.
“The resolution helps to offer some protection against discrimination based upon someone’s medical decisions in places of public accommodation,” Ensley said. “It really extends the message to our constituents who have had a lot of their freedoms sidestepped or trampled upon, you know, put on the back burner over the last 15 months.”
Vaccine passports would require travelers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
The resolution argues that vaccine passports and other government requirements “disenfranchises local citizens of the right to make their own health care choices and move freely within society” and says that residents have the right to refuse vaccinations based on religion, medical or personal reasons.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the councilmembers voted 6-3 to allow it to be introduced.
Councilmembers Michelle Chambers, Sharon Tucker and Glynn Hines were the three who were opposed. Their main concerns it that the resolution will cause a divide.
“In tonight’s meeting we saw people come forward that have strong passions,” Tucker said.
“Well, there are people who feel strongly the opposite way and so who’s rights should override another individual’s rights?”
This resolution is non-binding, which according to Tucker, means that there’s no “real teeth to it and it’s just a public statement.”
“I’m very disappointed that expectations have been set that probably won’t be able to be met by this body,” Tucker said. “I’m not sure that we have the legal ability to do what a binding resolution [would allow].”
Councilwoman Chambers reminded everyone at the meeting multiple times that on April 29, Indiana law created House Bill 1405 which already bans state and local governments from creating or requiring COVID vaccine passports.
“I believe that the current resolution before us is redundant,” Chambers said.
Ensley said that regardless, the resolution still “certainly sends a message.”
“It certainly, certainly expresses the values of our community as far as it pertains to individual liberty,” Ensley said.
At the end of the meeting, 14 Fort Wayne residents spoke in support of the resolution during the allotted time for public comment.
“I hope you will all stand for freedom because the vaccine passport tramples over top of it,” said June Hapfield, a Fort Wayne resident. “It opens up a Pandora’s box to tyranny. Some say it’s a slippery slope, I think it’s a deep dive into tyranny. It takes me back to the papers required of German citizens in order for them to travel about freely in their cities under Adolf Hitler.”
Others called vaccine passports “discriminatory” and “un-American.”
“Come on, man. What happened to America?” said another resident. “This isn’t the America I fell in love with. It’s passed the time to start sticking up for your voter’s rights.”
The resolution will be further discussed at the meeting on June 22.