Civil rights

Kokomo May Be Next City To Adopt LGBT Protections Law

Mar 8, 2016
Benson Kua /

UPDATE: March 8

The Kokomo City Council has preliminarily voted to expand civil rights protections to LGBT individuals.

The council's 5-4 vote came after a contentious meeting.

The ordinance will receive a second reading March 14. If the council approves it again, Mayor Greg Goodnight says he’ll sign it into law.

More than a dozen Indiana cities have adopted similar protections, with many taking action since last spring’s uproar over Indiana’s religious objections law.


Gretchen Frazee /

The abrupt death of legislation aimed at balancing religious freedom with gay, lesbian and bisexual civil rights left many civil rights advocates surprised, disappointed and pointing fingers as they sought to assign blame.

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Drew Daudelin reports that finger-pointing could have a ripple effect on this year’s elections as people on all sides of the issue begin looking ahead to the May primary and November general elections.

State of Indiana /

Tuesday’s State of the State will be Governor Mike Pence’s fourth address to a joint session of the General Assembly. 

Like previous years, Pence is expected to make the case for his legislative priorities – those include state and local road funding, shielding teachers and schools from a precipitous drop in ISTEP scores, and addressing the state’s drug abuse crisis. 

But what many will be listening most for is the expected reveal of the governor’s position on LGBT rights – a subject he’s declined to address for months.

Brandon Smith /

Two groups among the state’s most outspoken opponents of LGBTQ civil rights laws are challenging a law enacted by the state legislature, as well as ordinances adopted by the cities of Carmel and Indianapolis.

The Indiana Family Institute and the American Family Association of Indiana on Thursday filed a lawsuit that claims, among other things, the state and local laws violate the groups’ religious liberties.

Jim Grey /

While state legislators have made it clear they want to focus on anti-discrimination laws this session, some civil rights activists are pushing for another type of law –one punishing bias or “hate” crimes.

Hate crimes add an extra element to traditional crimes, a bias against a particular group, such as one defined by race, sexual orientation or religion.

Jim Grey /

Republican legislative leaders say a formal study on creating civil rights protections for the LGBT community won’t happen this year -- but they say they’ll be thinking about the issue regardless.

Republican leaders admitted earlier this year that controversy surrounding the religious freedom bill fast-forwarded the debate around adding LGBT protections to the state’s civil rights statute. 

Rep. Carson Pens LGBT Anti-Discrimination Resolution

Apr 13, 2015
Katie Harbath /

In a press call Monday morning, congressional Democrats announced a resolution expressing the need for LGBT anti-discrimination protections. The representatives on the call say legislation is needed on the national level to prevent states such as Indiana and Arkansas from passing religious freedom laws that allow discrimination.

Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colorado) read a statement on behalf of the resolution’s lead sponsor  Congressman Andre Carson (D-7th).

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

An American Civil Liberties Union representative encouraged Tippecanoe County residents Wednesday to reject the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which she says could erase 60 years of civil rights progress in Indiana.

ACLU national organizer Liz Welch says the organization is working on an act that may be the solution.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence says he wants to see legislation on his desk by the end of the week that clarifies the intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.

The governor says RFRA is meant to protect people’s religious liberties and does not allow businesses to deny services to gay and lesbian couples.

“No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe," Pence says.

Pence says much of the criticism Indiana has been receiving is because of misunderstanding about what the law actually does.

'Die-in' Protests Inaction On Racism At Purdue

Dec 9, 2014
Kristin Malavenda / WBAA News

Just as the campus community was leaving its offices and classrooms to go out into the midday rain, a group of community members calling itself the Purdue Social Justice Coalition was preparing to interrupt those midday activities.

Emerging from the Purdue Union, several group members walked to nearby State Street and splayed themselves across the busy thoroughfare, forcing campus police to divert traffic.