Although “equality” was listed first in the ideals of our country, history has shown that America does not “give” equality; citizens must actively organize, lobby, vote, and work to achieve equality. Women’s suffrage and the civil rights movements are only the most recent of these movements to obtain equality.
Through the efforts of LGBT Hoosiers and their families, friends, and allies, progress has been made in 2007. A major victory was scored in the fight against the Marriage Discrimination Amendment – Senate Joint Resolution 7 – when the proposal was stalled in the Indiana General Assembly. State hate crimes legislation was introduced and moved forward in the House of Representatives. Additional LGBT-supportive city councilors were elected this fall in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Indianapolis, West Lafayette, and other Indiana communities. Additional Hoosier corporations are providing domestic partnership benefits. Successful and growing Pride events were conducted across Indiana in communities such as Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Muncie, and Indianapolis. New and enhanced LGBT publications and public relations campaigns have sprung up across the state. The community and allies have continued to speak out against hate and intolerance wherever it is found.
A tremendous thank you is due to those that made the progress of 2007 possible, including (but not limited to) such organizations and groups as American Association of University Professors, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Values Alliance, BloomingOut, Bloomington Beacon, Citizens for Civil Rights (Lafayette/West Lafayette), Communication Workers of America, Cummins, Inc., Dow AgroSciences, Eli Lilly & Company, Emmis Communications, Gay Fort Wayne, Gay/Straight Alliance (Columbus), Human Rights Campaign - Indiana Steering Committee, Indiana Black Pride, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Indiana Fairness Network, Indiana Log Cabin Republicans, Indiana PFLAG Alliance, Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Indy Pride, Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Stonewall Democrats, Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination, IU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services, Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Jewish Community Relations Council, National Association of Social Workers, Reality Magazine, South Bend Equality, Stop the Amendment, The Word, Tri-State Alliance, Unitarian Universalist Community Churches in Danville, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Fort Wayne, and Lafayette, United DePauw, and WellPoint, Inc.
Nonetheless, there are more battles to come, including a renewed effort to enact an Indiana hate crimes law, as well as probable reintroduction of SJR 7.
The mission of Indiana Equality is to secure basic human rights for Indiana’s LGBT citizens. IE has two primary objectives – amending Indiana’s Civil Rights law to protect against discrimination based on either sexual orientation or gender identity, and ensuring that relationship protections for LGBT couples and families are not outlawed by an amendment to the State Constitution.
The leadership of Indiana Equality, comprised of individuals representing communities and organizations from across Indiana, has been busy throughout the summer and fall preparing for 2008. Additional partnerships forged with the Indiana State NAACP and local African-American leaders, the disabilities community, business and corporate leaders, LGBT-supportive religious groups and churches, organized labor, progressive organizations, and others will be vital to success in the coming year.
Indiana’s LGBT communities and allies must be ready for 2008. Encourage the groups and organizations with whom you are involved to join in the struggle for equality for all Hoosiers. Membership in the Indiana Equality coalition is open to any LGBT organization or LGBT-friendly statewide ally organization that accepts the IE Statement of Principals.