Statewide Initiative Announced to Expand Indiana Civil Rights Protections
Indiana Equality Seeks Fairness in Jobs and an Improved Economy through Inclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in State Law
?A broad range of Indiana civil rights organizations have banded together in a working coalition called Indiana Equality,? commented Kathy Sarris of Justice, Inc. ?Our mission is to persuade Indiana?s legislature to extend basic civil rights protections to gay and transgendered people.? In Indiana, a person can still be fired or denied credit, housing, or access to public accommodations simply for being gay or transgendered.
Indiana?s current law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry. Indiana Equality is calling on the Indiana General Assembly to add "sexual orientation and gender identity" to that list.
?Some may ask, ?Is Indiana ready? After all, we?re part of the Bible Belt,?" observed the Reverend Jeff Miner of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination. ?Some faith traditions affirm gay and transgendered persons; others don?t. It?s a big religious debate. Regardless which side of that debate we may be on, we can all agree that religious debates don?t belong in the workplace. Good workers shouldn?t be fired just because of who they are. This is not a conservative or liberal issue. It?s an issue of basic fairness ? a value that Hoosiers have long embraced.?
Indiana Equality consists of multiple statewide organizations, including the Gender Fairness Coalition of Indiana (GFCI), Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), Indiana NOW, Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA), Indiana Youth Group (IYG) and Justice, Inc. Among the regional groups taking part in the coalition are the Citizens for Civil Rights (Lafayette / West Lafayette), Free Rein (South Bend / Mishawaka), Gay/Straight Alliance (Columbus), Greater Indianapolis Fairness Alliance, Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Northeast Indiana Equal Rights Education Network (Fort Wayne), the Bloomington and Seymour chapters of PFLAG, and the Tri-State Alliance (Evansville).
Thirty major Indiana employers have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, including Anthem Insurance, Conseco, Cummins, Eli Lilly & Company, Lincoln Financial Group, Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis, Biomet, Allied Van Lines, and American United Life Insurance (AUL). The cities of Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Michigan City, and West Lafayette prohibit sexual-orientation discrimination in private employment and public employment. The State of Indiana prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public employment.
?We?ve seen a lot in the news lately about jobs migrating out of Indiana, about our best educated young people leaving Indiana to find the better jobs,? stated C. H. Douglas, President of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. ?Indiana will continue to be seen as a place where high tech businesses and educated people are reluctant to settle until we start dealing with some of our issues. One of those issues is that, in Indiana, it?s still ok to discriminate against gay and transgendered people. For sophisticated companies considering where to locate, that?s a big issue.
For additional information regarding the initiative, go the Indiana Equality website at www.incoalition.org.