INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 17, 2015) - Thursday night, a Carmel City Council Committee will debate possible changes to the city’s human rights ordinance to protect gays and lesbians. It’s a move happening across Indiana that’s getting a big push from the organization that was out on the front lines, fighting the religious freedom restoration act.
Freedom Indiana fought first for gay marriage equality then battled republican lawmakers over RFRA. Thursday they announced their next big push; adding gays and lesbians to the state civil rights code.
“We’re looking to add four words and a comma into our existing law; sexual orientation, comma, gender identity,” said Chris Paulsen, Freedom Indiana’s Campaign Manager.
Right now in Indiana, gays and lesbians can be denied employment or housing based on their sexual orientation; Freedom Indiana, the forefront organization that fought the religious freedom restoration act, is looking to change that.
“It is very patchwork right now. You drive from Indianapolis to Columbus and you’re not covered in between, but you’re covered here in Indianapolis and when you get to Columbus you’re fully covered,” said Paulsen.
Cities across the state have added their own ordinance protections. In Indy, Columbus, Zionsville, Fort Wayne, and others, gays and lesbians are protected a protected class. But for Freedom Indiana, and many democratic state lawmakers, a handful of cities, isn’t enough.
“Indiana and all Hoosiers deserve to know exactly what we’re doing in the state and to have these hodgepodges of different counties having different rules is not something that Hoosiers should have to deal with,” said State Senator Greg Taylor (D – Indianapolis).
Indiana democrats are already pushing for a 2016 agenda that adds gays and lesbians as a protected class statewide.
In April, following the passage of changes to the state’s controversial religious freedom restoration act, republican state leaders like House Speaker Brian Bosma said that they would be open to the discussion of passing a state wide ordinance that would add gays and lesbians as a protected class.
Opponents though like Eric Miller of Advance America, argue a state-wide ordinance would force Hoosiers to go against their religious beliefs.
“I go to church on Sunday as well. My pastor and I don’t agree on this issue. But as a legislator, I represent everyone. I don’t represent just my church. For us to stand in front of the Indiana General Assembly and say that we represent only religious organizations, we’re not doing our job. We represent all Hoosiers,” said Taylor.
A request to state republicans asking if they would support this change was not answered.