Hoosier Business Leaders Urge Congress to Pass the Equality Act

By Communications Team • July 22, 2021 • 9:52 am

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 100 Indiana businesses released a letter today urging Congress to pass the Equality Act—federal legislation that would modernize and improve the nation’s civil rights laws by including explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people. The coalition includes small businesses and large companies across Indiana.

“Indiana is the home of Hoosier hospitality. Whether we’re recruiting new employers or hosting March Madness, we welcome all,” reads the letter. “That is why, as members of Indiana’s business community, we urge Congress to pass the Equality Act to ensure that all Americans are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Business leaders say the Equality Act will ensure that all Americans are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. More than one in three LGBTQ people have reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives. The Equality Act would guarantee LGBTQ Americans have the same federal nondiscrimination protections afforded to all other Americans. It would also extend protections to millions of women who aren’t covered under some existing federal anti-discrimination laws.

“Competitiveness for talent requires that the places where we operate are safe, welcoming, and free from discrimination for team members and their families.” said Jon Gilman, Founder and CEO of Clear Software, Inc. “It’s time to update our federal laws to ensure LGBTQ Americans are no longer at risk of being fired from a job, refused a place to live, denied service in a place of business or withheld critical medical care because of who they are or who they love.”

Currently, 29 states, including Indiana, do not have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Some cities and counties across Indiana have enacted protections, creating an uncertain patchwork that places the burden on employers and employees to determine where and to what extent LGBTQ people are protected.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bostock v. Clayton County provided guidance on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act would ensure those protections are codified in law and modernize existing protections in housing and public accommodations.

“The current patchwork of protections creates uncertainty and unpredictability and demands a federal solution for businesses operating in Indiana and across multiple states,” said Joe Raver, President & CEO of Hillenbrand, Inc. “The Equality Act offers a federal standard and more importantly helps us protect our employees across the nation.”

“Overwhelming evidence shows us that discrimination is bad for business – whether it’s in the workplace or in the communities where employees and their families live and travel to. In order to attract and retain top talent, we need all states—including the Hoosier State—to be welcoming and respectful of all people. It’s not just the right thing to do—it also makes economic sense,” said Jessica Shortall, director of America Competes, the national, nonpartisan business coalition advocating for a clear federal nondiscrimination law.

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