Ed Team

Rainbow Chamber Letter to Council

Filed By Ed Team | April 25, 2005 6:57 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics

To the honorable members of this Council:

As president of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, I have heard several arguments against the amendment to include sexual orientation and gender idenitity One of those arguments is that there are no reports of such discrimination. Please note:
1.) there is no public entity at present authorized to accept such reports, and
2.) any who submit such a report, when there is no legal protection, sacrifice all equal rights to employment, housing, and public accommodation when they identify their sexual orientation.

As you consider economic competitiveness and the environment of Indianapolis, please consider that you never know who is capable of providing what critical advantage. (Alan Turing was the Brit who broke the German War Office's code during World War II, providing an incomparable advantage to the allies. Had he been driven from Britain because he was gay, who knows how many more would have died by Nazi torpedo?)

Similarly, a musical industry formed around Hoosier Cole Porter, but associated not with Indiana, because he had left. An entire textile industry formed around Hoosier Bill Blass, but not in Indiana, because he had left. Significant revenues accrued to the companies associated with the films of James Dean, but not to Hoosier film companies, because there are none and Dean wouldn't stay anyway. All of these individuals covered up their same-sex sexual orientations. Would bachelor James Whitcomb Riley have remained in Indiana today to charm Hoosiers? Important surgeons, researchers, academics, and business people have long since left Indiana as private citizens, quietly taking their talent away.

We are now 46th in the nation in percentage of college graduates because we have developed a national reputation as a backwater, and our educated youths are first to understand the problem and depart. I spoke with an attorney recruited to one of our leading law firms recently, and she observed that she runs into talented Hoosiers everywhere who have given up on Indiana.

The backward reputation of Indiana is a problem not only for retaining talent that may be gay, but for retaining talent of any stripe. (Hoosier Wendell Wilkie became a revered national political figure, but left Elkhart when it was controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. Wilkie wasn't African American, but he had no sympathy for "Hoosier Values" of discrimination. He became known as a New York attorney, not a Hoosier.) Where is David Letterman? Birch Bayh? Bill Hudnut? Jane Pauley? Kurt Vonnegut? How many nationally-known Hoosier names call Indianapolis home today? While Hoosiers add vitality to the coasts, what nationally-known names have arrived from other states to take their place?

Your statement on nondiscrimination will telegraph to the world whether we are capable of being a leading city, with a human rights policy consistent with that of the nation's leading corporate citizens, or a backwater. Your statement will determine whether or not Indianapolis is a worthy home to talent. I urge you to approve amendment #68.


Chris Douglas
Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce

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AUTHOR: Sarah Battista

DATE: 4/27/2005 09:09:12 AM

Unfortunately those council members who voted against Prop68 did not have Indianapolis or our economy in mind. All they cared about was essentially making sure they looked Christian/Muslim enough. Indianapolis already has a problem with homelessness and poverty. Why would we make it more difficult for able-bodied people to earn a living and keep a roof over their heads? It makes absolutely no sense. Religious and non-profit organizations were not going to be affected by this proposal, and yet they believed the lies that churches would be forced to hire gays and the Boy Scouts were going to be ruined. The Advance America crowd is spreading a propaganda campaign to rival any in history. We need our own information campaign and we need it now. They speak from the pulpit and by word of mouth and we can do the same. Speak out. To keep silent is to throw your vote in with the scary fundies.