Indianapolis City-County Councilors Jackie Nytes (D) and J. Scott Keller (R) are working diligently to pass a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) this fall that includes sexual orientation and gender identity protections. But they cannot do it alone. They need our help. Four main ways you and the community can get involved have been identified:
Tell Your Story
If you have a story of discrimination or prejudice in housing, employment, education or other aspects of public life because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, let Jackie and Scott know! These stories are extremely important! Remember, most of the councilors who voted "NO" the last time were not convinced that LGBT discrimination actually exists in Marion County. We have to change that perception! They are also interested in knowing whether your company already has protections in place and whether or not the company enforces them. You do not have to share your name or address, just your story. In turn, these stories will be shared with the City-County Council to emphasize the need for anti-discrimination language in the Human Rights Ordinance. Without these stories, it will be difficult to justify the need for the HRO. Get your stories in today!
Please visit http://www.gayindy.org/HRO/ to email your stories to Jackie and Scott. Out Word Bound is also collecting letters. You can call them at 317-951-9100 or drop off your letters at 625 N. East Street in Indianapolis.
Attend a Town Hall Meeting
The Equal Opportunity Advisory Board (EOAB) will be holding a series of town hall meetings in late July and early August. Three meetings will be held in all, one on the north side, one downtown and one on the south side. The times, dates, and locations of these meetings will be shared as soon as they are announced. Marion County residents are needed who are willing to publicly share their LGBT discrimination experiences. These stories can also come from Marion County parents and friends who can testify to discrimination faced by their children and family members. The religious extremists who derailed the last HRO attempt will be there in force testifying as to why we do not need protection. It is vitally important that these meetings be well attended by the LGBT community and its supporters.
Linda Perdue will be coordinating people who are willing to publicly testify. Please visit http://www.gayindy.org/HRO/ and check the "Town Hall Meeting" box if you are willing to testify.
Meet with Your City-County Councilor
Members of the LGBT community as well as their families and friends are encouraged to meet with targeted City-County Councilors. These meetings would consist of 2-5 participants personally talking with councilors as to why the proposed changes to the HRO are necessary. Walter Botich and Bil Browning from IE Region 8 will coordinate these meetings. This could have a huge impact on the councilors vote this fall. You will not be alone at these meetings and advisors from a variety of groups are available to help you prepare! This is one of the most valuable tools we have as a community - don't let this opportunity to talk face-to-face with your representative to pass you by! PFLAG members are especially encouraged to respond.
Please contact Walter and Bil through http://www.gayindy.org/HRO/ to pinpoint your council district and to coordinate meeting times. Check the box marked "Meet with my councilor."
Be Ready to Contact your City-County Councilor
The first attempt to pass this HRO was thwarted by a flood of email from people who did not even live in Indiana. When the time comes, be ready to email or call your councilor to urge them to support the HRO. These messages do not have to be long and only have to state that you support the passage of the Human Rights Ordinance.
This update to the current Human Rights Ordinance is extremely important to our community and Marion County as a whole. If you want these legal protections, then it is up to you. Your stories, attendance at town hall meetings, and face-to-face meetings with your councilors are all tremendously valuable. Stand up and be counted! Through education and better laws, we can create a community where all are treated fairly and diversity is embraced. Help make Indianapolis a better place for all citizens - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.