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How This Openly Gay Student Body President Helped Foster LGBT Inclusion at Notre Dame Bryan Ricketts • Notre Dame
IndyStar: “Why LGBT rights must include public accommodation” November 13, 2015

In an excellent editorial printed today, the IndyStar outlined the case for why any update to Indiana’s civil rights law to protect LGBT from discrimination must include public accommodations. Read the full editorial here. 

The IndyStar points out that public accommodations are already included in Indiana’s civil rights legislation, which protect against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry.

That means a restaurant can’t deny serving a meal to a customer because of his race. A hotel can’t deny a room to a guest because of her ethnic background. A bakery can’t refuse to sell a wedding cake to a couple because of their religious faith. Almost all Hoosiers would agree that such protections against discrimination are fair and reasonable.

So why then would state leaders consider extending legal protections for LGBT citizens in employment and housing but exclude public accommodation? Are we willing to say as a state that some citizens are more deserving of full protection than others? What message would it send if state leaders deemed discrimination by business owners against our LGBT friends, neighbors and family members acceptable under the law?

The IndyStar also addressed some of the arguments we often hear against updating our laws to protect everyone from discrimination. 

The most common objection to full inclusion under the law is that business owners could be forced to compromise religious beliefs by having to provide services at same-sex weddings. That concern should not be brushed aside lightly. Religious liberty is an essential value in our state and nation, one deserving of strong protections, and government should always pause before telling citizens that they must compromise core beliefs.

That’s why Indiana’s civil rights law has long excluded houses of worship, religious schools and clubs, and nonprofits.

The editorial closed by highlighting two important points: Indiana’s economic growth is on the line, and we have a great example of what this policy looks like in practice with Indianapolis’ decade-old non-discrimination ordinance.

A weakened measure that eliminates public accommodation would imperil the economic growth of Central Indiana, a significant engine for the state. The region thrives from hosting large conventions and sports events, which would be at risk. Make no mistake about that
Indy’s decade of experience shows clearly that equal rights for all can thrive side-by-side with the free exercise of religious liberty. We all can truly work and live together.

You can read the full editorial here.