Back From Session Empty-Handed, LGBT Rights Groups Set Sights On 2017

Mar 15, 2016

Credit Urban Sea Star / https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanseastar/

Indiana groups pushing for LGBT rights say the path forward to securing those rights next year is educating lawmakers.  LGBT rights advocates discussed Tuesday what they have in store after LGBT rights legislation died before getting a vote on either chamber floor this session.

Despite failure at the General Assembly, local communities, including, most recently, Evansville and Kokomo, continue to enact their own anti-discrimination ordinances. 

LGBT rights group Freedom Indiana’s Chris Paulsen says her organization will continue to support communities that want to move forward on protecting LGBT Hoosiers.

“We’ll be available to help with resources,” Paulson says. “We’d like it to be a local effort.  We want people in the community to be heard and that’s why you saw, in Kokomo, it was just people of Kokomo speaking.”

Groups on the other side of the issue haven’t had much recent success stopping local ordinances.  But they have fueled victories at the ballot box for state lawmakers.  Some leading LGBT rights groups can’t legally do that sort of work.  But Indiana Competes’ Peter Hanscom says that doesn’t mean individual LGBT advocates aren’t working on voter outreach.

“Folks are smart enough to connect the dots to realize, these are the people who get to vote on if I get civil rights or not, so I’m going to pay attention,” Hanscom says.

Paulsen says state lawmakers – mostly Republicans, so far – have reached out to her since session ended, seeking to learn more about LGBT rights.