When Ronson Rowley was a teen, he said he used to sneak into a nightclub called the Ten Bar. “It was the only black gay club here in Indianapolis,” he recalled. One night he ran into his uncle.

“He looked me dead in the face,” he recalled. “And [he] said what are you doing here? I said, the same thing you’re doing here.”

Lafayette, Tippecanoe County Leaders Move To Enact Transgender Protections

Sep 7, 2016
Sarah Fentem / WBAA News

Both the Tippecanoe County Commissioners and the Lafayette City Council voted Tuesday to add protections for the transgender community to existing human rights ordinances.

The commissioners must still vote once more this month to make their move final, but the Lafayette vote was the last in what's been a charged debate.

After a lengthy and spirited public debate, the Lafayette City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve an amendment adding gender identity protections to the city’s human relations ordinance.


Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

The Kokomo City Council has passed an ordinance expanding civil rights protections to the LGBT community.

Monday’s vote was 5-4 – the same as a preliminary tally earlier this month -- and it did not come without some controversy.

Some business owners wanted assurances that the new ordinance would not be used to force them to do something against their conscience or to make them a target for saying no to a gay couple.

And Council member Robert Hayes says at least one of his colleagues received a threat prior to the vote.

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.


City of Frankfort

The city of Frankfort has taken its transition to police body cameras slowly. But when it comes to police sharing information on social media, the city jumped right in last month.

On this edition of Ask The Mayor, we chat with Mayor Chris McBarnes about whether there are any of the same privacy concerns on Twitter that there are about video of traffic stops.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Advocates on either side of the religious liberty/LGBT rights debate at the Statehouse say they’re not surprised a bill aiming to rewrite last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act died Wednesday without even receiving a vote. 

The proposed bill would’ve labeled certain constitutional rights – including freedoms of religion, speech, thought, and assembly – as “fundamental” and required judges to give deference to them. 

LGBT rights group Freedom Indiana opposed the bill, arguing it threatened to promote discrimination against the LGBT community. 

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.

Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Legislators convene next Tuesday for the ceremonial opening of what shapes up as a third straight legislative session dogged by issues surrounding gay marriage.

Republican leaders have been mum about whether they'll hear a civil rights bill, or what form it might take if they do. But the Indiana Chamber has thrown its weight behind such a bill, calling it a "necessary action" to counteract negative perceptions from this year's quickly amended Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana Senate Democrats have unveiled what they call a simple and powerful approach to enshrine lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender non-discrimination language in the state’s civil rights statute. 

The Senate Democrats’ proposal essentially adds four words to the list of people protected by the state civil rights law: “sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says doing so would fulfill a fundamental Hoosier value that all people deserve equal protection under the law. 

Barbara Brosher / Indiana Public Broadcasting

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz joined the conversation about how to make schools safer and more inclusive for all students when she attended a panel discussion last month on the subject at Bloomington High School South.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation recently updated its anti-discrimination policy to specifically prohibit discrimination or bullying based on a student’s gender identity.

There are no state regulations on anti-discrimination policies, so it’s left to individual districts, like MCCSC, to make those changes.