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I Wanted a Safe Workplace In Which I Could Transition Kathrynne • Indianapolis
Indy’s leaders celebrate 10 years of LGBT protections December 18, 2015 Source: IndyStar

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By Ellen Garrison

While the debate over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections at the state level rages on, the past, present and future mayors of Indianapolis on Friday celebrated 10 years of LGBT rights in the city.

Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, his predecessor, Bart Peterson, and his successor, Joe Hogsett, gathered Downtown to emphasize that the incorporation of LGBT rights into the Human Rights Ordinance in December 2005 was a benefit for the city.

Peterson, a Democrat, reminded the audience that there was both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition to the measure when it was first proposed for a lot of the same reasons there is opposition today — religion-based objections, disbelief that LGBT people face discrimination, and partisan politics.

“Change conquers up a lot of possible negative consequences,” he said. “So we’ve seen what has happened in the last 10 years. Not only did the world not come to the end here in Indianapolis, but, in fact, the negative consequences that many people predicted have not played out.”

Things have changed since then as well. Same-sex marriage is now legal across the country, something that no one would have believed possible in 2005, he said.

“I like to believe that even some of those who voted against that ordinance in 2005 might have voted differently if that vote were held today,” Peterson said.

Ballard added that no problems have emerged as a result of the ordinance in his eight years as mayor.

The state legislature is poised to debate adding LGBT protections to the state anti-discrimination law in the upcoming legislative session. Ballard said lawmakers only need to look to Indianapolis for an example of leadership on this issue.

“Since that time, the Indianapolis Human Rights Ordinance has given our LGBT residents and visitors a very simple promise,” Ballard said. “A promise to be free to live their lives openly and with dignity. In 10 years Indianapolis has shown that this promise of equal treatment under the law can coexist with all of the other freedoms that we hold dear.”

Democrat Joe Hogsett said he is proud to be the future mayor of a city that welcomes all.

“Moving forward, we must not, we will not, waver,” Hogsett said. “That is why I stand here today to lend my voice to this celebration of our city’s leadership in the march toward justice, and of the city leaders who have played such a critical role in that journey.”