As president of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, I have heard several arguments against the amendment to include sexual orientation and gender idenitity One of those arguments is that there are no reports of such discrimination. Please note:
1.) there is no public entity at present authorized to accept such reports, and
2.) any who submit such a report, when there is no legal protection, sacrifice all equal rights to employment, housing, and public accommodation when they identify their sexual orientation.
As you consider economic competitiveness and the environment of Indianapolis, please consider that you never know who is capable of providing what critical advantage. (Alan Turing was the Brit who broke the German War Office's code during World War II, providing an incomparable advantage to the allies. Had he been driven from Britain because he was gay, who knows how many more would have died by Nazi torpedo?)
Similarly, a musical industry formed around Hoosier Cole Porter, but associated not with Indiana, because he had left. An entire textile industry formed around Hoosier Bill Blass, but not in Indiana, because he had left. Significant revenues accrued to the companies associated with the films of James Dean, but not to Hoosier film companies, because there are none and Dean wouldn't stay anyway. All of these individuals covered up their same-sex sexual orientations. Would bachelor James Whitcomb Riley have remained in Indiana today to charm Hoosiers? Important surgeons, researchers, academics, and business people have long since left Indiana as private citizens, quietly taking their talent away.
We are now 46th in the nation in percentage of college graduates because we have developed a national reputation as a backwater, and our educated youths are first to understand the problem and depart. I spoke with an attorney recruited to one of our leading law firms recently, and she observed that she runs into talented Hoosiers everywhere who have given up on Indiana.
The backward reputation of Indiana is a problem not only for retaining talent that may be gay, but for retaining talent of any stripe. (Hoosier Wendell Wilkie became a revered national political figure, but left Elkhart when it was controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. Wilkie wasn't African American, but he had no sympathy for "Hoosier Values" of discrimination. He became known as a New York attorney, not a Hoosier.) Where is David Letterman? Birch Bayh? Bill Hudnut? Jane Pauley? Kurt Vonnegut? How many nationally-known Hoosier names call Indianapolis home today? While Hoosiers add vitality to the coasts, what nationally-known names have arrived from other states to take their place?
Your statement on nondiscrimination will telegraph to the world whether we are capable of being a leading city, with a human rights policy consistent with that of the nation's leading corporate citizens, or a backwater. Your statement will determine whether or not Indianapolis is a worthy home to talent. I urge you to approve amendment #68.
Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce