Civil rights advocates have started a campaign to persuade state legislators to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Leaders of Indiana Equality, a new statewide coalition formed to lead the effort, announced the initiative at a statehouse news conference on Monday. They also released a letter to legislators and the names of 250 clergy who support the proposition. "People shouldn't be fired just because of who they are," said the Reverend Jeff Miner, pastor of Jesus Metropolitan Community Church in Indianapolis. "This is not a conservative or liberal issue. It's an issue of basic fairness."
Indiana lawmakers proposed three bills in the last session that would have extended protections to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. All were defeated. Members of Indiana Equality said they believe most Indiana residents support their stand. They also said the protections are important to the long-term economic health of the state. Morton Marcus, director of the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, said such protections could help the
state's reputation as well as and its ability to attract high-tech and life-sciences companies. "This is the kind of issue about which there is no argument: It does no harm, and it might do us some good, so let's go ahead with it," Marcus said.