Indiana mayors, both Republican and Democrat, are willing to talk about sex and gender.
As much was clear at a gathering of city and town leaders this past week in Kokomo that was hosted by the non-partisan Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.
Discussions covered a range of issues from tax-increment financing to rules about carrying concealed weapons at public meetings.
Those at the closed-door meeting also wrestled with the question of whether they should add sexual orientation and gender identity to local human rights ordinances, according IACT director Matt Greller and others gathered there.
It wasn’t court orders or political pressure that prompted the discussion. It was the premise that inclusiveness makes business sense for communities that want to attract good jobs and retain young talent.
The conversation focused on how local leaders can talk about using such ordinances to recruit employers who care about more than just tax incentives.
“If you don’t have this, you may be seen as being one step behind your neighbor,” said Greller. “It’s become another driver for moving this conversation along.”
But the conversation is not happening in the Statehouse, despite the fact that civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people was the show-stopping issue of this past legislative session.
The divisive Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by lawmakers sucked up all oxygen in the building when it was cast as a license to discriminate.