In the News

Pete Buttigieg's announcement creates a buzz

June 17, 2015

SOUTH BEND — Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s announcement Tuesday that he is gay drew a quick and largely positive response in local, statewide and even national political circles.

It also positioned the first-term Democrat as the first openly gay executive in the state, and the highest elected official in Indiana to come out.

South Bend Mayor Comes Out

June 17, 2015

SOUTH BEND -Joel Barrett was about to walk his dog this morning, when he caught a glimpse of the Mayor's op-ed in his morning paper.

"I was kind of thinking, 'is this going to say what I think it's going to say?" he said.

Barrett has lived in South Bend for 16 years...

He says it wasn't always safe to be a gay man in Michiana. 

"You can tell that there's a much more, bigger acceptance and being out is not something to be feared anymore." Barrett said.


Viewpoint: South Bend Tribune

April 5, 2015

March marked three years since the passing of the South Bend Human Rights Amendment. Thanks to Charlotte Pfiefer, Oliver Davis, South Bend Equality members like Catherine Pittman and many others, the city of South Bend became a safer place for LGBT residents by barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, education and public accommodations.

As Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s said: “Ultimately this is about something very simple. Is it or is it not acceptable to discriminate against employees for reasons not related to their job performance? The answer in my view and that of most Americans is no.”

Those present at one of the many meetings over the eight years it took to create and pass this amendment remember the cries of its opponents warning us of the impending negative consequences that would be inflicted upon our community if the amendment passed.

They warned our city would be forced to construct additional bathrooms everywhere to accommodate a third gender. Instead, we have local businesses such as South Bend Brew Werks move to gender-neutral single stall bathrooms, cleverly named the “Necessarium.” Additionally, thanks to Meghan Buell of the LGBT Resource Center of Michiana, South Bend is the proud home of Transgender Resource, Education & Enrichment Services which is committed to bringing knowledge of the transgender community to help educate and bring resources to local governmental and business leaders.

We were also warned that predatory men disguised as women would be lurking in women’s restrooms. Instead we have wildly successful monthly events such as Guerrilla Gay Bar where 300-plus fun-loving people gather at a local restaurant/bar in South Bend socializing, dancing, eating and drinking, bringing thousands of dollars into our economy. GGB is now regionally recognized as the monthly LGBT event to attend, drawing people from Grand Rapids, Fort Wayne, Chicago and beyond. Their dollars are being spent at our hotels, restaurants and shops. Not to mention the immeasurable value of their positive reports to friends back home as they describe the great spirit that is evident in the welcoming city of South Bend.

We were told that the ordinance was unenforceable and would result in outrageous and costly city legal battles. Instead, we now have legally-wed same-sex couples throughout South Bend who are contributing, active citizens making a difference in their community and economy without fear of losing their job or residence due to their sexual orientation. More LGBT residents are calling South Bend home when they see the affordable cost of living that is available to them in a prime vicinity. They enjoy the amenities of our budding, urban lifestyle that includes affirming churches, unique local shopping, fine museums, delicious local eateries, live music, local brews, entertaining events and all the other fantastic offerings of South Bend.

Three years later, it is clear that the warnings of those opposing human rights were little more than fearmongering designed to keep South Bend on the wrong side of history. Thanks to the affirming votes of Common Council members Tim Scott, Gavin Ferlic, Valerie Sehey, Fred Ferlic, Oliver Davis and Karen White, our city has protection in place for people like my husband and me. Without reservation, we invite our LGBT friends and allies to come experience South Bend.

The Human Rights Campaign just released its 2014 Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide evaluation of municipal law. South Bend scored 67 out of 100 tying Bloomington for second place in our state. Indianapolis scored 82. Thanks to South Bend’s amended Human Rights Ordinance we are in the top 50 percent of 353 municipalities.

The index considers many factors such as: the recognition of domestic partnerships; transgender health benefits; the existence of a LGBT liaison to city executives and law enforcement; enumerated anti-bullying policies; accurate reporting of hate crimes; openly gay elected officials; how well the city advocates for full equality and more.

Our challenge is to raise that score so we can proudly stand with the 38 cities that received a 100. My goal is for South Bend to be a model among cities leading the way to equality in our nation and to be nationally recognized as a diverse city that is open, welcoming and affirming to all people.

Joel Barrett lives in South Bend.

January 29, 2015

In a lecture at Saint Mary’s College entitled “Godly but Gay,” South Bend writer and speaker Joel Barrett shared his experiences as a Baptist pastor, getting married to a woman and attending three years of ex-gay therapy before deciding to accept himself as gay.



Local reaction split over same-sex marriage rulings

June, 2013

While news of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings spread across the country, same-sex couples in Michiana rejoiced in the victory. But, some religious leaders are speaking out against the decisions.


Newlyweds David Seymour and Joel Barrett felt some uncertainty Wednesday morning as they awaited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Michiana residents working to defeat constitutional same-sex marriage ban

December, 2013

Legislators are expected to take the issue up next year.


The measure already passed in 2011, but must pass again in 2014 in order to be placed on the ballot for voters.


A group of about 30 people packed Chicory Café in South Bend Wednesday night to talk about how to defeat the ban.

Michiana reacts to same-sex marriage rulings

June 2013

They're hopeful Wednesday's Supreme Court decisions will pave the way for them to receive the same benefits as straight couples, here in Indiana.


"It was a 50-50 tossup wondering whether it was really going to happen or not. So that fact that it did today is really big. Really encouraging," says Barrett.


Michiana keeps eye on same-sex marriage arguments in Supreme Court

May, 2013

A divisive issue is taking center stage at the Supreme Court.


In two different cases, the high court will consider the powerful question of what it means to be married.


Tuesday, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on California's Prop 8, a ban on same sex marriages.


Wednesday, they'll take up the Defense of Marriage Act.

Michiana reacts to NBA's first openly gay player

Add Date here

"There's a part of me that says I'll be glad when this isn't news anymore," said Barrett. "Right now it is news because there is not equality. People don't have to come out as straight, that's not news. Coming out is still news in the sports field, so I'm happy that it sets a precedent."

Same-sex couples react to Supreme Court's decision on Indiana gay marriage

October, 2014

Some couples decided not to wait for Indiana to legalize gay marriage, and went to other states to be married.


“We've been together for nearly nine years. We went to New York City to get married in 2013,” said Joel Barrett.


Joel, and his husband David Seymour, have been waiting for this day for a long time.



Mixed reaction to landmark marriage ruling

June, 2013

Gay marriage supporters here in Indiana are celebrating a big court victory in Washington but are now looking to the Hoosier state for change.

Politically Speaking: Same-Sex Marriage

April, 2013

Nine states legally recognize same-sex marriage. Another six states allow civil unions, providing state level spousal rights to same sex couples. Meanwhile, Indiana lawmakers are considering joining Michigan and 29 other states by adding a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution.

Barrett - Seymour 1st Anniversary

February, 2014

David Seymour and Joel Barrett were married February 23, 2013 in New York City with Add News Story here

Mixed reaction to landmark marriage ruling

June, 2013

Gay marriage supporters here in Indiana are celebrating a big court victory in Washington but are now looking to the Hoosier state for change.

David Seymour and Joel Barrett were recently married under New York Law. 

David Seymour and Joel Barrett - Gay Marriage

June, 2013

David Seymour, left, and Joel Barrett were married earlier this year in New York and have been together 7 years. They are keeping track of the Supreme Court hearings this week on gay marriage from their South Bend home.

Decisions in same-sex marriage cases anxiously awaited

March, 2013

For Joel Barrett and David Seymour, the decision in the DOMA case will determine whether insurers or the government will be required to respect the commitments they made as a couple.

Barrett and Seymour were wed in New York -- a state where same-sex marriage is legal -- in February. Seymour said the decision in the DOMA case will have a real impact on many of the financial decisions that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Notre Dame Insider

June, 2013

David Seymour, left, and Joel Barrett were married earlier this year in New York and have been together 7 years. They are keeping track of the Supreme Court hearings this week on gay marriage from their South Bend home.

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Joel Speaks Out

Kansas City, MO