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Sex orientation added to Terre Haute anti-discrimination law

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) – The Terre Haute City Council has passed an amendment adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its local anti-discrimination ordinance.

The vote Thursday night came in the wake of a national outcry that erupted after Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious objections law in late March. Critics of the law said it would provide a legal defense for discrimination against gays, lesbians and others. The Legislature quickly approved revisions prohibiting businesses from using it as a legal defense for refusing on religious grounds to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations.

Council members voted 7-0 Thursday to extend protections that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and other areas.

“Terre Haute is a welcoming place, everybody is welcome,” Jeff Lorick, the city human relations commission’s executive director, told council members before the amendment was approved. “And I’m sure the expanding of that ordinance will further make that statement, that we are an inclusive community.”

The Tribune-Star reports that all City Council members sponsored the proposal. Changes to the ordinance included adding definitions for discrimination, gender identity and sexual orientation. The amendment also spells out that the commission should broadly represent the community in regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual orientation is also included in civil rights ordinances in Indianapolis, South Bend, Evansville and Bloomington. Officials in Elkhart, Hammond and Columbus are considering similar proposals.