This week, we announced that Chris Paulsen will lead our campaign to win statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers in 2016. Get to know Chris more in the interview below.
Why does winning non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers matter to you?
These protections are important for me and my wife, but it’s about more than just our family. We live in a state with a reputation for being hospitable and welcoming. That’s who we are as Hoosiers. Yet just a few months ago, we attracted a firestorm of negative national attention after lawmakers passed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which quickly became known as a “license to discriminate” against gay and transgender people. It was a dark time for our state, and it’s still not behind us. That said, RFRA highlighted the fact that it’s legal in Indiana to fire, deny housing or decline service to someone who is gay or transgender. A lot of Hoosiers didn’t know that, and it paved the way for this campaign to update our civil rights law to include gay and transgender people.
Tell us about your experience. What brought you to managing a campaign to update Indiana’s civil rights law to protect LGBT Hoosiers?
I’m a longtime advocate for fairness and equality in our state. As president of Indiana Equality Action, I was in the trenches fighting to make sure all Hoosiers are treated with respect. I was on the Board of Directors of the first Freedom Indiana campaign to fight the marriage amendment, and I’m excited to continue my involvement in this new role.
What’s different about 2016? Why do you think this coming year will be the year we finally win statewide protections for gay and transgender Hoosiers?
Because of RFRA, Hoosiers are more aware than ever before that someone can be fired, denied housing or declined service for being gay or transgender, and that runs contrary to our core values. You don’t have to be gay or transgender to imagine being turned away from a restaurant or dismissed from a job interview for being who you are. As a state and nation, we have a proud tradition of looking out for those who have historically been treated unequally. Our state already protects from discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion and veteran status. All we’re asking lawmakers to do is extend those protections to gay and transgender people.
What can supporters across the state do to be a part of this campaign to help make history in 2016?
More than anything, we need people to contact their lawmakers to let them know it’s time to update Indiana civil rights law to include gay and transgender people. No one should be fired, denied housing or declined service because of who they are, and that’s a message that should resonate with all Hoosiers who value fairness and equality. This is an education campaign, and we believe the more Hoosiers know that gay and transgender people are not protected right now, the more Hoosiers will want to make sure we update our law to make sure they are.
What do you do outside of work?
My wife Deanna and I like to spend our spare time with friends and family. We gather strength from the great support our friends and family have offered over the 18 years we have been a family. We are also season ticket holders of the Indiana Fever and enjoy the many cultural opportunities that Indianapolis offers.SHARE THIS STORY