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INTRAA Applauds Indianapolis Mayor Peterson for Executive Order

Efforts to add protection based on Gender Identity continue

[INDIANAPOLIS, IN] - On March 9, 2004, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson (D) issued Executive Order No. 2 prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation within city government, covering city employees, contractors and vendors. This comes as welcome news to many in the GLBT and allied communities and is definitely a step in the right direction. INTRAA applauds Mayor Peterson for taking this controversial yet long overdue step to improve our community for all Hoosiers.

While INTRAA recognizes the real value as well as the symbolic importance of the Mayor's Executive Order, we are also disappointed that this order did not include a prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Many in the Indiana GLBT community have been united in efforts thus far to actively push for both sexual orientation and gender identity to be added to state and local civil rights laws. Community efforts, embodied by coalitions like Indiana Equality (http://www.incoalition.org), recognize that passing sexual orientation without gender identity and expression is only a half-victory which leaves many people--gay, lesbian, bisexual, and straight-- vulnerable to discrimination for not conforming to gender stereotypes in appearance or behavior. "This Executive Order is good news for those who are straight-acting and straight-appearing, regardless of their actual sexual orientation," commented Bryan Sirtosky, President of the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) (http://www.intraa.org). "However, it is still going to be very easy for government to fire or refuse to hire a butch lesbian, for example, who may make them uncomfortable because she may look and act more like a man than a woman. That's not about your orientation or who you love. It's about who you are and how you present yourself to the world."

To date, elected officials Todd Rokita (R-Secretary of State) and Isaac Randolph (R-1, City-County Council) have issued nondiscrimination statements that include both sexual orientation and gender identity. Also, Scott Keller (R-16, City-County Council) and Jackie Nytes (D-9, City-County Council) actively support amending the city's Human Rights Ordinance to include both gender identity and sexual orientation.

Until basic civil rights are guaranteed for all people regardless of gender identity, not only are transgender people left behind, but so are many gender-nonconforming lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual people."

"Although this latest change does not explicitly protect all gay and transgender people, we are encouraged by other signs that discrimination based on gender identity or expression is reaching a level of awareness with public and elected officials that can only increase as we continue with our educational efforts. We will get gender identity added to the civil rights laws. It's only a matter of time," Sirtosky noted.

Text of Executive Order #2 - 2004

Indianapolis, Indiana:
March 9,2004

To: Employees of City Government
From: Brenda L. Burke, Director, Department of Administration
Subject: Executive Order No. 2, 2004

(Prohibition of Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation)

This Administration conducts its business without regard to race, color, disability, religion, sex, age, national origin or veteran status and is committed to equal opportunities in all aspects pertaining to city matters. Effective March 9, 2004, Executive Order No. 2, 2004 establishes a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Denying equal opportunities is contrary to the principles of freedom and equality and is a burden to the objectives of equal opportunity adopted by this Administration.

It is the goal of this Administration to make clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in city matters shall not be tolerated. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, employment decisions, contracts, and business relations. The Department of Administration and all City Departments will be reviewing any materials that will need to be modified to support this E.O. The successful implementation of this policy requires participation and cooperation of all employees of the City of Indianapolis.

City employees who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation shall be encouraged to report the facts giving rise to their belief to their supervisor, Department Director or Human Resource representative, who shall investigate the allegations promptly and thoroughly and attempt to resolve the issue in the same manner provided for individuals alleging discrimination on other grounds.

You are encouraged to review Executive Order No. 2, 2004. If you have questions, please discuss them with your supervisor. Thanks

INTRAA is a statewide advocacy organization working for freedom gender identity and gender expression for all Indiana residents.

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