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Progress in Indiana for LGBT equality

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By Mary Kuhlman

A report finds Indiana is making progress when it comes to LGBT equality. The Movement Advancement Project examined the ways laws protect LGBT people, also how laws, or lack of laws, put them at risk of harm.

Indiana is ranked among the 14 states under what the report calls 'medium equality.' Chris Paulsen, spokeswoman with Indiana Equality Action, says it's an improvement because the state finally moved from the bottom to the middle.

"I think the fact that we have marriage puts us there; our other protections are pretty poor overall," she says. "We still have a long way to go. There's a long way between the top states and the middle states."

According to the report, policies in Indiana support adoption and medical decision-making for LGBT couples. But there is a lack of employment and housing protections, which Paulsen says can impact income and livelihood. In Indiana, there are also no laws protecting LGBT students from discrimination.

Researcher Naomi Goldberg with Movement Advancement Project says several Indiana communities have passed ordinances prohibiting private employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. But she says those laws only impact about 20 percent of people in Indiana.

"A state law would be incredibly useful in providing a climate that shows that people are treated fairly at work and that they are judged based on the job, not who they are or who they love," she says.

Paulsen contends policies that establish equality for LGBT individuals would be good for the state's economy, and for companies looking to recruit top talent.

"I think it has impacts for the whole community," she says. "People are more likely to move here for jobs, more likely to come here for education. It just makes Indiana a more welcoming place for everyone."

In Indiana, there are over 180,000 LGBT people and 19 percent of same-sex couples are raising children, according to the report which ranked 21 states as 'high equality' for their laws.

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