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Pride Lafayette Sets Sights On State-Wide Policy

Matt B.

The newly-seated president of Pride Lafayette is making statewide change to civil rights statutes a top priority for the local advocacy organization.

Rick Puckett says the nonprofit as an institution has taken a stand against two bills filed in the 2016 legislative session.

The first is a bill that would criminalize a person using a restroom other than one matching their birth sex, a measure proponents say protects people from sexual predators.

The second, Senate Bill 100, is the Indiana GOP’s answer to Senate Democrats’ “four words and a comma” civil rights legislation.

Puckett contends the bill, which provides protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, effectively makes LGBT people second-class citizens thanks to language that would let small businesses and religious organizations opt out of the law.

Puckett worries if adopted, the bill would have the same effect on Indiana’s reputation as last years’ oft-maligned Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“If SB100, this bill, passes as it is, in its flawed state, we will once again be known as the state of discrimination," he says.

Puckett says his group is working with state civil rights organizations such as Freedom Indiana and Indiana Competes on an event scheduled for later this month, and is working on letter-writing and phoning campaigns aimed at state lawmakers.

But he says one of his biggest goals for the organization is to increase visibility and acceptance locally, hoping to create a larger statewide impact.

“[It’s] not only let our voices be heard, but bring our points of view into peoples’ lives so they see us as real people,” Puckett says.

As a registered nonprofit, Pride Lafayette is barred from lobbying or endorsing particular candidates. But 501(c)(3)s *are* allowed to mobilize citizens in support of ideas. 

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