Congresswoman Julia Carson chastised the city county council for its failure to pass an amendment to the human rights ordinance establishing nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the Indianapolis Star's coverage of Carson's talk, the chair of the City County Council, Steve Talley, said that he had voted against the measure because he was unaware of discrimination on that basis. Councillors Jackie Nytes and Scott Keller have each called therefor for stories of discrimination.
Three reactions to Talley's statement are appropriate. First, there are no official reports of discrimination collected by an official entity because such discrimination is entirely legal, and no entity is authorized to collect such reports. Second, Talley expressed no principled disagreement with protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, an indication of practical willingness to change his vote given evidence of discrimination.
The third reaction is a call for those who have suffered discrimination to overcome understandable reluctance and share their stories. Why is this reluctance understandable? Because victims of discrimination must get on with their lives, soldier on in their existing positions or find new work if they have lost jobs. Making such allegations can only impede that process, especially when there is no legal protection whatsoever. Such allegations can only invite a defensive response from an employer, which response can only be to attack the credibility and job performance of the victim. Such a response can only further damage the ability of an individual to earn a livelihood. For a victim of discrimination in the absence of legal protection, calling attention to that discrimination is a no-win situation.
This reluctance to speak truthfully is now our enemy. Those who have experienced discrimination must now understand a responsibility, however uncomfortable, to speak on this matter of personal pain and regret. I know this pain, and I know the reluctance to open wounds for public examination, for I have never truly publicly discussed my own experiences. But I will now. And I encourage everyone who has experienced this pain personally to post their own story either as a comment or as an e-mail that can be forwarded to a city county councillor. Mine will follow.