INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Monday marked the first-ever LGBTQ Day at the Indiana Statehouse. The ACLU said it was a chance to tell legislators that all Hoosiers need to be included in “We the People.”
If you ask the people participating in LGBTQ Day at the Statehouse, “We the People” doesn’t always mean everyone.
“We’ve got to keep fighting. You can get married over the weekend and be terminated from your job Monday simply because of who you are and who you love,” said state Sen. J.D. Ford, a Democrat representing parts of Boone, Hamilton and Marion counties. Ford is also the state’s first openly gay person elected to the Indiana legislature.
LGBTQ advocates said they are often left out of legislation that would give them the same protections and rights granted to heterosexuals.
“We are in 2020. Let’s see clearly. Let’s be able to talk about issues that are affecting all of our community,” said Art Jackson with BU Wellness. The nonprofit is the largest African-American AIDS service organization in the state of Indiana, according to its website.
That’s why this LGBTQ Day at the Statehouse means so much. While the people who attended Monday are typically at the Statehouse for rallies or protests, LGBTQ Day gave them a chance to get access to resources and share their stories, talking directly to their representatives.
Organizers said generally when someone is more connected to an issue, that connection can have an impact on decision. And when it comes to pushing forward legislation, organizers say they need all the advocates they can get.
“A lot of times we’re under attack when we’re at the legislature. There are bills that attack our community, and we wanted to come and show that we are no one to be scared of,” said Katie Blair with the ACLU of Indiana.
He spoke on legislation in the works and legislation that’s still needed.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that we have a fully inclusive hate crimes bill because I know there’s a lot of people running around the state Senate saying that and certainly we do not,” he said.
Advocates said that right now there aren’t enough housing or work protections for the LGBTQ community.
While many are hopeful events like this will help spur along legislation, there’s concern if it’ll be enough for LGBTQ people of color.
“How do we get to a place where the issues that I might face, being a black gay man, are going to be totally different even in housing, then other people it’s just going to be different,” said Jackson.
Ford said that this session he introduced legislation for workplace protections for the LGBTQ, but so far it’s gotten no traction.