Hoosier business leaders around the state are calling for Congress to pass the Equality Act that will extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ people.
The signatures on an online pledge come from large corporations to small main street businesses.
Large companies including Eli Lilly, Cummins and Salesforce are on the list of more than 100 businesses that have signed the letter.
But while large corporations might stand out, small business owners like Kristin Kohn have also signed on.
Kohn owns Indianapolis-based jewelry and gift shop Silver in the City. She said explicit and permanent protections for LGBTQ+ people are important for businesses of all sizes in the state.
“We feel it's going to positively impact our small sort of mom-and-pop independent businesses, for people to see and understand that this is something that is supported on a street level, like on a main street level, not just in a corporate headquarters,” Kohn said.
This is the latest push from many Hoosier businesses for LGBTQ+ individuals to be explicitly considered a protected class – following the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015 and the hate crimes bill in 2019.
Kohn said it’s been disappointing the state has been unable to pass legislation.
“It is frustrating, because we know that in addition to being the right thing to do, how strong it is for our economy, for tourism, for attracting the right talent to Indiana, to attracting, like, larger businesses,” she said. “I mean, all that filters down and affects the smaller locally-owned businesses as well.”
Kohn said she believes a federal law would eliminate the patchwork of protections between different states.
The legislation passed the U.S. House along party lines but has stalled in the Senate.
Many Republicans, including Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, have objected to the bill.