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The decision on whether to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the civil rights law ultimately comes down to this question: What kind of state do we want Indiana to be?
Will we be a state that abhors discrimination against our coworkers, neighbors and family members? Or will we continue to deny LGBT Hoosiers the legal means to fight back against discrimination?
Will we send the unmistakable message that people of all backgrounds are welcome here? Or will we signal that some are shunned in Indiana because of their sexuality?
Will we step confidently forward into a future where diversity and inclusiveness are highly valued for everyone? Or will we step back toward a past when fear and prejudice were allowed to fester?
In the weeks ahead, Gov. Mike Pence and the 150 members of the Indiana General Assembly will have to contemplate those questions as they consider Senate Bill 100, legislation that for the first time would extend civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in employment, housing and public accommodation.
Their answers will shout to the world a great deal about Indiana.
Embracing rights for all proclaims that we as a state truly want to compete for the world’s best talent and that we fully support the businesses that require that talent.
It signals that we are a welcoming, inclusive place to visit, work and live.
Even more important than the message sent to those outside our state is one we will send to ourselves. All of us who love Indiana and are proud to call it home know there have been points in our history that we look back on with deep regret. Points when prejudice was allowed to harm our fellow citizens. Points when fear drove out compassion.
We have learned a great deal from our mistakes, and so we are not the same state that 30 years ago first ostracized a young AIDS victim named Ryan White. We are instead the state that later embraced him and came in time even to hail him as a heroic voice for the sick and dying.
After a false start, a bad start, Hoosiers eventually made the compassionate choice. The right choice.
Now, we must choose again. What kind of state do we want to be? A state that shuns some, or a state that embraces all?
We choose rights for all.SHARE THIS STORY