Indy Star: Indiana businesses forming LGBT rights coalition November 12, 2015

This piece originally appeared in the Indy Star on November 11, 2015. CLICK HERE to read the full article:

Separate coalitions are forming to represent distinct interests — the newest being Indiana Competes, announced Wednesday, which will make the business case for adding civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers. One of its key organizers is the Indy Chamber and its early members include Indianapolis-headquartered pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co.

That adds to the support for such legislation from Freedom Indiana, a grass-roots group, and Tech for Equality, a coalition of tech sector leadership backed by the political punch of founder and ex-Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle.

But will having distinct groups split their influence, or will it amplify their advocacy? How will their message be perceived, particularly when advocates for LGBT rights are up against a tightly unified opposition of social and religious conservatives?

Indiana Competes, organizers say, sees the antidiscrimination measure as an economic issue, not a social one.

“Businesses have made and will continue to make a very clear statement that we don’t support discriminating against anyone here in the state of Indiana,” said Peter Hanscom, a former deputy campaign manager for Freedom Indiana who is now managing the chamber’s new business initiative.