Back in 2005, there was a huge debate here in Indianapolis. It wasn’t over crime or taxes, but whether, hold on, there should be an ordinance that would prohibit workplace and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Yup. It was an interesting political fight, which failed the first time, 18-11, even though it had bipartisan support. It eventually passed 15-14, with two Republicans joining 13 Democrats.
Fast forward nearly 20 years. How things have changed, for the most part, for the better.
Earlier this month was the Indy Pride Parade, and like the last couple of parades, I marched in it as part of the Antelope Club contingent. And what surprised me the most (in a good way) was going down the parade route to see thousands of people wave and show their support, coming in all shapes, colors, sizes and age groups.
There is no way that would have happened back in 2005. The times, they are a-changing.
And there actually is a sliver of state statutory protection in Indiana. You may also recall the “RFRA Fix”. The language that was put into the bill said although you have religious freedom, you can’t use RFRA as an excuse to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
As I said, Indianapolis (and Indiana, to an extent) have come a long way. And it was great to see that on display in the Pride Parade.
However, some parts of this road trip seemed more like running in place.
For some reason, when it comes to LGBTQ rights, lately, there has been a much louder public pushback than what I’ve usually seen — “Don’t say Gay Bills”, states banning different types of gender-affirming care (I thought parents and medical professionals should be making those decisions, not politicians) and banning drag shows.
OK, we have to digress for a few seconds; some of the same people who want drag shows banned are some of the same ones who had no problem with Milton Berle, Flip Wilson, Monty Python or Benny Hill. They dressed up in women’s clothing all the time.
It’s always somewhat annoying to have to deal with the peanut gallery of social media with the classic (tired) questions such as, “Why do they need a pride parade? Why do they put their sexuality on parade? Where is the straight pride parade?” The answers are simple. One, because for so long, it was not acceptable (socially and, in some places, legally). Two, the straight parades take place the other 11 months of the year.
The list goes on.
However, one thing I did notice in the hatersphere, most people who don’t like something or have an issue with something ignore it or make other choices. Which is their right. But what gets me are the people who droll on so much about how they are against the LGBTQ community that there are some “personal issues” they’re wrestling with. Just a thought.
The pride and the prejudice, my friends.
The fun never stops.
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is the editor and publisher of Indy Politics and a licensed attorney in both Indiana and Illinois. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets, including statehousefile.com, where this commentary previously appeared. He can be reached at abd[email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].