Not Equal In Indiana. Not Surprising.

A friend sent me a link to a research report issued by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law. The abstract pretty much says it all:

Approximately 133,000 LGBT workers in Indiana are not explicitly protected from discrimination under state law. Discrimination against LGBT employees in Indiana has been documented in court cases, administrative complaints, and other sources. Many corporate employers and public opinion in Indiana support protections for LGBT people in the workplace. If sexual orientation and gender identity were added to existing statewide non-discrimination laws, 61 additional complaints of discrimination would be filed with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission each year. Adding these characteristics to existing law would not be costly or burdensome for the state to enforce.

Recent polling discloses that 73% of Indiana residents support the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class under Indiana’s existing civil rights law. That’s 73% in Very Red Indiana.

Major employers in the state have worked with civil rights and civil liberties organizations in an effort to add “four little words” to the list of categories protected under the state’s civil rights statute:  sexual orientation and gender identity. So far, the legislature has exhibited zero interest in doing so.

I still remember a discussion in my undergraduate Law and Policy class a few years ago–at a time when the state was embroiled in debate over Mike Pence’s infamous effort to ensure that Hoosiers have the “religious freedom” to discriminate against their LGBTQ neighbors. An African-American student was stunned to learn that, in Indiana, an employer could legally fire someone simply for being gay.

Shaking her head, she said “Black people often don’t get justice, but at least there’s a law on the books! At least there’s an official position that discrimination against us is wrong!”

The public outrage over Pence’s RFRA led to a subsequent “clarification” (cough cough) that the measure would not override provisions of local Human Rights Ordinances that do proscribe discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. A number of city councils around the state promptly added those protections to their Ordinances, which was gratifying.

The problem, as the research points out, is twofold: municipal ordinances in Indiana don’t have much in the way of “teeth.” They are more symbolic than legally effective. Worse, for LGBTQ folks who don’t live in one of those municipalities, there are no protections at all.

The result: Only 36% of Indiana’s workforce is covered by local non-discrimination laws or executive orders that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And that discrimination occurs with depressing regularity.

– In response to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 75 percent of respondents from Indiana reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment at work, 30 percent reported losing a job, 21 percent reported being denied a promotion, and 48% reported not being hired because of their gender identity or expression at some point in their lives.

– Several recent instances of employment discrimination against LGBT people in Indiana have been documented in court cases and administrative complaints, including reports from public and private sector workers.

– Census data show that in Indiana, the median income of men in same-sex couples is 34 percent lower than that of men married to different-sex partners.

– Aggregated data from two large public opinion polls found that 79 percent of Indiana residents think that LGBT people experience a moderate amount to a lot of discrimination in the state.

Four little words. Why is that so hard?


  1. I have this insatiable urge to ask those against LGBTQs, obviously for their own religious reasoning, if they remained virgins till after the marriage vows were spoken and signing of the legal marriage license. Do they still have sex, do they enjoy sex, have they had sex outside of marriage, what is their favorite position…the good old missionary would probably be the favorite. If the sex lives of LGBTQs is public information and governed by enacted laws; then the heterosexuals sex lives should be opened to the public. Is sodomy still against the law here in Indiana? The eleven areas in Indiana covered by the RFRA “protection” has left the majority of this state open to LGBTQ discrimination. This means, if you are known in your neighborhood as being LGBTQ, all businesses have the legal right to refuse service to you based on the business owner’s religious beliefs.

    Of course I have no interest in anyone else’s sex life; but is that observation any more ridiculous than not selling special wedding cakes, pizza or allowing LGBTQs to remain in the military? A favorite quote of President Obama, after Pence’s battle to pass RFRA and one pizza company refused to sell to LGBTQs was; “Joe Biden and I have become such close friends, we probably couldn’t buy pizza in Indiana.”

    Another President Obama quote I vividly remember is his report that the majority of guns used to commit crimes, confiscated in Chicago and many Illinois cities, had been purchased here in Indiana due to our lax – or lack of – gun laws. So; purchasing guns to commit crimes is legal but following your inborn sexual orientation is against the law.

  2. The LGBTQ community is not protected under Title 5, either, so they can’t get help from any Federal source. It will be very interesting to watch lawsuits over the next few months regarding the prohibition of transgenders from military service. It took the courts to determine the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Maybe the courts will just say that LGBTQ citizens are entitled to all of the rights and privileges of citizens.

  3. The poll numbers you cute are indeed heartening. We have stagnation in our legislature. We need new people to step up. How about a seminar on how to get into politics?

    Side note. The rallying cry I have heard is “four words and a comma.”

  4. Since Trump became president I have heard many people say that the “idea” of our country has failed. There seems to be some truth to this.

    Think of it… we are down to the courts overseen by Democrat judges to enact and expand the protections of the Constitution…. not the legislature, the COURTS!

    What the hell does that say about us as a nation?????

  5. Did you point out to that African-American student that the some of the African-American community opposed including LGBTQ Hoosiers under civil rights protections because they did not think it was fair to equate race and the struggles that African Americans had faced with being gay?

  6. Michael; there are also women who oppose “equal pay for equal work” and denying birth control to women due to their own religious beliefs. Some current political supporters or non-supporters cannot be explained using logic.

  7. …and how many of you are aware it’s the law if someone is tested for HIV in Indiana, a positive result means your doctor is required by law to submit your name to be recorded in a state registry as though you’re a criminal by definition. When you go for the test you are required to sign away your privacy rights on the spot or the test will be refused. Try that with erectile disfunction. No, HIV is not a gay disease, but you’d better well believe that law came about because of the perception it is. Christofascism is alive and well.

  8. Brenda H…contact your local Indivisible Group for information about getting into politics. Or google how to become a politician. I just did that and got 24 million results. Then do a google search on what do you have to study to become a politician? 20 million results.

  9. JC; that state registry is the Division of Public Health and ALL infectious diseases are required by law to be reported. They always have been; measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, etc., years ago also required large yellow “Quarantine” notices be posted on the fronts of homes where anyone had those childhood diseases. Often, entire neighborhoods were filled with those notices.

  10. I seriously doubt most people nowadays actually have any feelings one way or the other-of their own. I truly believe they are being cajoled or even forced into believing discrimination is right and proper against LGBTs. I’d start looking at so called kristians from their churches or even out of state agitators as to where these people get their beliefs.

  11. @JC, yes, I’m aware that those people who test HIV positive along with those people who test positive for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C (Hep B and Hep C using medical community jargon) do have medical records that are flagged, flagged not for discrimination but rather flagged as a matter of tracking and reducing the number of bloodborne infectious diseases as per the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

  12. @mike from iowa, I suspect you’re short-changing the average American by thinking that he/she has few original thoughts or thoughts not pre-determined. By the way, I’ve occasionally wondered why you substitute a ‘k’ for the ‘ch’ whenever you mention Christian. Is there a message behind that substitution?

  13. BSH; I read mike from iowa’s “kristians” as referring to the connection to KKK belief’s regarding the superiority and Christianity of white men only as acceptable.

  14. @JoAnn, perhaps that’s true, but only ‘mike from iowa’ can answer. I’ve also noted ‘mike from iowa’ occasionally substitutes ‘American’ with ‘Amerikan’. Do you think that substitution of ‘k’ for ‘c’ in American has a similar meaning? I do not do well with secret codes involving substitutions in spelling.

  15. Has anybody ever heard of Equal Protection of the Laws? I have, and if I represented plaintiffs who were gays and lesbians in a suit against enforcement of these unconstitutional laws I would hammer away at my opponents based on this constitutional principle. Looking at this from another angle, what if gays and lesbians either refused to pay taxes or paid such taxes in proportion to the rights the state allows them to enjoy, all based on the notion that if I am not a full time recipient of what the state offers its citizenry but from which I am excluded, then I do not owe the state what full time recipients pay. We qualify citizenship for convicts, too. Many states do not allow ex-convicts to vote, but while wrong policy, at least these ex-convicts can be said to have voluntarily done something wrong while the gay and lesbian person was born that way and is punished for something that did not involve voluntary choice. We should be careful when picking winners and losers in the “full citizenship” game because, once the principle is established and should it fall within the purview of authoritarian politicians, what’s next? Are we off to Elba because we are Baptists, white, gay, straight, socialists, or whatever makes the no-no list of our masters? I think the better macro policy in a democracy is to expand the constitutional franchises of citizens rather than restrict them (short of treason, sedition etc.).

  16. This from the New York Times today: “Eight members of a paramilitary Christian sect in New Mexico have been arrested on charges of child sexual abuse and other crimes…”

    If you, as a “Christian”, are not outraged, you are part of the problem. Getting upset with those who do not show respect toward your religion in the form of spelling, is not the same as defending your religion.

    Want to defend Christianity? Try BEING Christian in more than name only.

  17. BSH; I clearly stated that I read mike from iowa’s “kristians”, did not claim that is his meaning. I also read – am not claiming – that his “Amerikan” could have the same KKK basis. Think Trump and only his comments after the Charlottesville tragedy blatantly upholding many of the neo-Nazis, White Nationalists and KKK members as fine people.

  18. @JoAnn: Since you asked:

    Sodomy is no longer a statutory offense (crime) in Indiana. I think it was explicitly repealed in the 1977 revision of Indiana’s criminal code (BTW: the now long repealed Indiana sodomy statute made sodomy a crime regardless of the gender of the actors involved). Even if Indiana still had a law on the books making consensual sodomy between adults a criminal offense, it couldn’t be legally enforced. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas found laws making sodomy between consenting adults a crime to be unconstitutional :

    “The Court held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the 14th Amendment. Lawrence invalidated similar laws throughout the United States that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults acting in private, whatever the sex of the participants.”

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