I was not surprised when Senate President Pro Tempore David Long announced that the GOP caucus could not reach a consensus on legislation to add sexal orientation to the state’s civil rights and so the bill effectively died in the Chamber.
In fact, I told you this would likely happen. So now the question is where exactly does this issue go? I’ll tell you. It goes back to the trenches where LGBT rights supporters have had their most success. In other words, they need to refocus on efforts to pass local human rights ordinances.
According to Indiana Competes, currently 24-percent of Hoosiers live in a city or town with a fully inclusive Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity. Thirty-four percent live in communities that have some protections or lack enforceability, for example while there is no ordinance there might be an executive order on the books or there’s a city policy prohibiting discrimination in hiring..
Communities with fully inclusive and enforceable HROs include: Indianapolis/ Marion County, South Bend, Carmel, Hammond, Muncie, Anderson, Columbus, New Albany, West Lafayette, Zionsville, Terre Haute and Bloomington.
And ironically this is where most of Indiana’s economic growth is taking place. One of the criticisms of passing statewide protection is that Indiana’s economy continues to thrive without one. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Indiana is thriving, but it’s in the places that have local HROs. More than 82 percent of Indiana’s the new economic investment commitments announced by the Indiana Economic Development Commission between April and December 2015 were in communities with HROs. And more than 58 percent of new jobs and more than 90 percent of all ‘high-wage’ jobs announced in Indiana were created in communities with comprehensive HROs.
And that’s the key selling point. Based on my conversations with lawmakers from smaller communities, jobs are the big issue as their constituents worry that the job creation isn’t coming to their communities. Well, one way to fix that might be with a local HRO. I’m not saying it’s the silver bullet what ails small-town Indiana, but it probably couldn’t hurt. Apparently it’s helping other local communities. And that’s where the battle should go next.