INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — About 8% of Hoosiers identify as LGBTQ, says Chris Paulsen, chief executive officer of Indiana Youth Group.
Those Hoosiers, thanks to a major decision handed down Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, now have legal backing, Paulsen said. A landmark civil rights law now protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers from discrimination in employment. The ruling makes it illegal to fire employees on the basis of sexual orientation.
“This is great news,” Paulsen told News 8.
Indiana Youth Group is the state’s largest organization that serves youth who self-identify as LGBTQ+.
Paulsen said, “Five years ago, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal. This ruling is even bigger for our community than that ruling because this means that LGBTQ people can earn a living, support themselves and be good, upstanding citizens, because they can keep jobs now.”
Carl Thomas, president of Indiana Pride of Color, says he once experienced discrimination while at work because he’s a black gay man. “I felt disrespected. I felt unwanted. I felt … so many different emotions came through.”
Thomas says Monday’s decision means hope, and that voices are being heard.
“We’re going to continue to be in the front lines. We’re going to continue to make noise. We’re going to continue to say, ‘Hey, we want to be heard, and we want to be treated equally.'”
Monday’s court decision came after years of hard-fought battles for LGBTQ Hoosiers that continue to this day.
Kit Malone, an advocate with the ACLU of Indiana, said the ruling is “certainly a cause to celebrate, and we are all celebrating right now.
“Knowing that we have some hope, that we have a recourse if we are discriminated against, because we are LGBTQ. It is, of course, not the end of the fight.”
Paulsen said the next area to be addressed for the LGBTQ community could be in public accommodation. Paulsen said Hoosiers can still be denied dinner at a restaurant, for example, in cities that don’t have protection laws on the books.
“A horrific, revisionist decision this morning from the U.S. Supreme Court has dramatically shifted the landscape on issues of human identity.”Indiana Family Institute, on Twitter
“I am thrilled to hear about the Supreme Court’s decision today. Today’s decision is a victory for human rights in our country. The LGBTQ+ community has long suffered from discrimination in the workplace, and today’s ruling reaffirming the protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act brings us one step closer to equality.
“While we have cause to celebrate today, there is still plenty of work left to do. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ Americans still face harassment and even violence in their daily lives – especially black and brown transgender Hoosiers. Today’s ruling gives us something to celebrate, but there is still plenty of work left to do, including passing comprehensive hate crimes legislation for our state, which is something I will continue fighting for as we move closer to the next General Assembly session.”State Sen. J.D. Ford, an Indianapolis Democrat
“The decision is a heartening sign of progress for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, who for too long have been denied equality under the law. As a long-time supporter of equality for all Hoosiers, I celebrate and commend the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I stand firm that no one should fear workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s why as Mayor of Evansville, I passed one of the state’s first non-discrimination ordinances and as Chancellor at Ivy Tech, I installed the first gender-neutral bathrooms on campus.
“As a final note, I want to wish a Happy Pride Month to everyone who is celebrating. Today’s news could not come at a more apt time.”Jonathan Weinzapfel, Democratic candidate for Indiana Attorney General
“The #SCOTUS ruling today is big, like really BIG. Being afforded protections at work, you can no longer be fired for being LGBTQ+, is so important to the health and welfare of the entire community and our families. This demolishes Mike Pence’s RFRA that allowed discrimination anywhere.”Ali Brown, a Democrat member of the Indianapolis City-County
“LGBTQ Americans have demanded and fought for the common, American principle for decades that it is constitutionally illegal for an employer to fire someone simply for being LGBTQ. The U.S. Supreme Court today affirmed what we’ve demanded for more than fifty years, and while we will continue our fight to achieve full LGBTQ acceptance across Indiana, it sure does feel great to know that even during these uncertain times, history always bends towards equality.”Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Stonewall Democrats