Monday, November 21, 2005

HRO Is Back And Needs Your Support

Indianapolis’ Human Rights Ordinance (“HRO”) is being reintroduced at tonight’s City-County Council meeting as Proposal 622. The HRO revamps the city’s outdated civil rights ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited forms of discrimination in employment, education, public accommodations and housing. Supporters are encouraged to attend tonight’s meeting, which starts at 7:00 p.m. at the public assembly room of the city-county building.

As of the printing of Proposal 622, twelve councilors had signed on as sponsors, including at least one council member who previously voted against the HRO in April, Republican councilor Lance Langsford. In addition to Langsford, the sponsors include the original sponsors, Democrat Jackie Nytes and Republican Scott Keller, as well as Democrats Rozelle Boyd, Monroe Gray, Dane Mahern, Angela Mansfield, Joanne Sanders, Greg Bowes, Vernon Brown, William Oliver and Lonnell Conley.

Area GLBT groups, under the direction of Indiana Equality’s Region 8 Steering Committee and HRO council supporters Jackie Nytes and Scott Keller, have waged a grassroots campaign over the past several months to build public support for the HRO after it was voted down in April by a vote of 18-11. Local Democrats were stunned then by the no votes of five Democratic council members, including the council’s president, Steve Talley.

None of the five Democrat councilors have publicly changed their position despite intense lobbying from supporters and local Democratic leaders. In addition to Steve Talley, Democrats Patrice Abdullah, Sherron Franklin, Ron Gibson, and Mary Moriarty Adams all voted against the HRO. These members run the risk of losing the support of the Marion County Democrat Party in their bids for re-election in 2007 if they once again vote against the HRO and cause its defeat. Sherron Franklin is already out of sorts with local Democrats after she embarrassed Mayor Bart Peterson by joining Republicans in defeating the consolidation ordinance for law enforcement, one of the Mayor’s highest priorities.

Republican councilor Scott Keller still holds out hope he may be able to convince at least one more Republican to join him in supporting the HRO. Marion County GOP Chairman Rep. Mike Murphy played a key role in getting Republican council members to vote against the HRO in a bloc last April, despite its Republican co-sponsor, in hopes of using support for the HRO as a anti-gay wedge issue to attack Democratic council incumbents in the next election.

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