350+ Businesses Call on General Assembly to Strengthen Indiana’s Economy & Protect LGBT Hoosiers January 5, 2016

Today, as the 2016 legislative session kicks off at the Statehouse, the 350+ businesses from across Indiana that comprise our coalition penned a letter to House Speaker Brian Bosma, calling for passage of comprehensive legislation that will strengthen Indiana’s economy by updating our state’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers.

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In the letter, the businesses make a clear case for this update to Indiana’s civil rights law, saying that it will help them attract and retain top talent to ensure a more vibrant workforce in the Hoosier State:

“Indiana has the 16th largest economy in the United States, but permitting legal discrimination harms our state’s ability to grow a talented workforce, attract entrepreneurial innovation, and build a thriving tourist industry. To continue our economic growth, we must have the tools necessary to recruit and retain the best talent to live and work for us here, in Indiana. The people we recruit must know that they, their family and their friends are welcome here. Taking an affirmative position that no one will face legal discrimination will allow us to recruit the talent we need, and retain the visitors who support our retail businesses across the state.”

Michael Huber, CEO of the Indy Chamber—one of the founding members of Indiana Competes—underscored this point:

“When businesses can’t recruit and retain top talent to our state because of a fear those individuals may be legally discriminated against, our economy suffers. Banning discrimination of any kind is not only the right thing to do, it makes economic sense. Making certain that everyone in Indiana has equal rights is another tool in our toolbox to help attract top businesses and investment.”

Similarly, Doug Dayhoff—president of Upland Brewing—urged lawmakers to act to repair Indiana’s reputation in the global economy, especially in the aftermath of the passage of the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015:

“It’s up to our legislators to take action to show the world that discrimination will not be tolerated in our state because our economic reputation is at stake,” said Doug Dayhoff, President of Upland Brewing. “It is currently legal to discriminate in Indiana, and that is wrong. We need our lawmakers to show leadership to make sure our economy is not damaged any further.”

The coalition also shared results from a recent poll that showed that more than 62% of those surveyed support making it illegal in Indiana to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. The poll, conducted in December by Bellweather Research, is the most recent to show overwhelming support for the state to ban discrimination against LGBT people. The highlights include:

  • 73% of those surveyed believe that Indiana state law already makes it illegal to discriminate against an LGBT person in the area of employment, housing and public accommodations.
  • 62% of those surveyed support making it illegal in Indiana to discriminate against LGBT people.
  • 47% of those surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for a legislator if he/she voted against protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
  • 69% of those surveyed indicated they had a family member or close friend (or both) who is gay or lesbian.

Over the next 10 weeks of legislative session, our unprecedented coalition will continue to make the case to lawmakers that Indiana’s economy—and the businesses that fuel it—are stronger when we make it clear that discrimination has no place in our state.

CLICK HERE to see the full list of businesses—and then be sure to tell your lawmakers to act in 2016 to attract a vibrant workforce to Indiana by protecting LGBT Hoosiers under our state’s civil rights law.