South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke issued an Executive Order on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 to expand the city's non-discrimination policy for city employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Indiana Equality thanks Mayor Luecke for his decision and congratulates the entire South Bend community on this step forward.
South Bend Equality, a local community organization that advocates for equal protection under the law for all residents regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, declared the executive order "an important step" toward establishing needed civil rights protections and applauded Mayor Luecke for his leadership and courage in standing up against the mistreatment of any citizen.
In concert with other community organizations, South Bend Equality has been leading efforts with the South Bend Common Council to amend the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to include non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in housing, employment, and public accommodations The Mayor’s order, affecting only city employees, does not alter the South Bend ordinance.
Currently it is legal to fire, discriminate against, or deny housing to someone on the basis, or the perception, of their sexual orientation or gender identity in most of Indiana. Only in the cities of Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Michigan City, and West Lafayette and in Tippecanoe County is sexual orientation covered. Gender Identity is included in the Bloomington and Indianapolis ordinances. The State of Indiana has an executive order signed by the Governor Frank O’Bannon and continued by Governors Joe Kernan and Mitch Daniels which covers both in state employment only.
A 2008 Indiana Equality-commissioned survey of Hoosier residents conducted by the IU Center for Survey Research found that respondents overwhelmingly agree (80.4%) that gay and lesbian Hoosiers should have the same civil rights protections as other groups, while 79.7% agree on transgender inclusion in civil rights protections. Support for equal treatment is also bi-partisan -- 92% of Democrats, 64.2% of Republicans, and 85.5% of Independents support civil rights for gays and lesbians. Clear majorities support such protections in urban, suburban, small town, and rural areas, and across all age and educational attainment groups.
Praising Mayor Luecke’s position, Indiana Equality encourages the South Bend Common Council to move from this initial-step to full inclusion. Indiana Equality Action President Walter Botich, a South Bend native, declared, "It's time for South Bend to move into the vanguard of progressive cities in Indiana. All citizens deserve to be fully protected from discrimination in their employment and housing regardless of their identity."
The mission Indiana Equality is to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Indiana. IE seeks such equality by facilitating and coordinating the efforts of the LGBT and allied community that are directed to research, education, and community mobilization. For more information regarding Indiana Equality, please visit the organization’s website at www.indianaequality.org.