LGBT rights in Indiana

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Map of USA IN.svg
StatusLegal since 1977
Gender identityState does not require SRS to alter sex
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation protection in employment (per court ruling). Sexual orientation and gender identity protections in state employment
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsSame-sex marriage legal since 2014

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Indiana face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Indiana since October 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal in the case of Baskin v. Bogan.

A landmark April 2017 court ruling held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited under federal law. This ruling only applies to Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, however. Since then, it has been illegal to discriminate against someone or a group of people in the workplace solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Indiana decriminalized same-sex sexual activity in 1977.[1] The age of consent is 16, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriages are recognized and performed in Indiana under a federal court decision in October 2014.[3]

Annual attempts to adopt a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman have failed since 2004. Indiana requires that two separately elected legislatures approve an amendment for it to be put to a popular vote. The proposed amendment passed both houses of the legislature in 2005,[4] and then again in 2011.[5] On June 25, 2014, U. S. District Court Judge Young declared Indiana's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, and same-sex couples immediately began to secure marriage licenses.[6] However, the ruling was appealed. On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Indiana.[7]

Domestic partnerships[edit]

Map of Indiana counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

There is no recognition of domestic partnerships at the state level in Indiana.

  • Bloomington

In 1997, Bloomington established domestic partnerships for unmarried city employees.[8]

  • Carmel

Carmel has established domestic partnerships for unmarried city employees.[8]

  • Indianapolis

On August 13, 2012, the Indianapolis City-County Council, in a 20-8 bipartisan vote, established domestic partnerships for all married and unmarried employees in the city and county. On August 23, 2012, Mayor Greg Ballard signed the ordinance into law which went into effect on January 1, 2013.[8][9]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Map of Indiana counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in state employment

Governor Joe Kernan issued an executive order in 2004 protecting state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression. In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels added the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the list of protected categories in state employment covered by the state's Equal Employment Opportunity policy.[10]

In 2013, Kim Hively filed a lawsuit against the Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana in South Bend, arguing that she was denied promotions and let go from her job because of her sexual orientation. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in the case in November 2016 with discussion focusing on the meaning of the word "sex" in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans workplace discrimination based on race, religion, national origin or sex. On April 4, 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled in an 8-3 vote that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Ivy Tech subsequently stated they would not appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. This ruling creates a precedent for lower courts in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin to follow, meaning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is now banned in these states (Illinois and Wisconsin already had laws prohibiting such discrimination).[11] Human Rights Campaign hailed the ruling, saying: "Today's ruling is a monumental victory for fairness in the workplace, and for the dignity of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who may live in fear of losing their job based on whom they love."[12]

The counties of Marion,[13] Monroe,[13] Tippecanoe,[14] and Vanderburgh,[15] along with the cities and towns of Anderson,[16] Bloomington,[13] Carmel,[17] Columbus,[18] Evansville,[13] Hammond,[19] Indianapolis,[13] Kokomo,[20] Lafayette,[21] Michigan City,[22] Muncie,[18] Munster,[23] New Albany,[24] South Bend,[13] Terre Haute,[18] Valparaiso,[25] West Lafayette[26] and Zionsville,[18] have ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lake County,[27] Fort Wayne[28] and Whitestown[18] have ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Religious objections[edit]

On March 26, 2015, Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), also known as the Indiana "religious objections" bill, into law.[29] The law's signing was met with widespread criticism by such organizations as the NCAA, Apple CEO Tim Cook, the gamer convention Gen Con, and the Disciples of Christ. Technology company said it would halt its plans to expand in the state.[30][31] Thousands protested against the policy.[32][33]

On April 2, 2015, Governor Pence signed a measure into law which was intended to be a clarification of the newly enacted legislation. Specifically, the new language says the RFRA does not authorize a provider — including businesses or individuals — to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, goods, employment, housing or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex or military service.[34]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Indiana statutes permit single LGBT persons to adopt. The state Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, may adopt as well. Some local courts have also supported the right of a same-sex partner to adopt his or her same-sex partner's biological or adopted child.[35]

In 2005, the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that lesbian partners who agree to conceive a child through artificial insemination are both the legal parents of any children born to them.[36]

Birth certificates[edit]

On June 30, 2016, a federal judge ruled that Indiana must allow same-sex couples to list both their names on children's birth certificates. The ruling was a result of a federal lawsuit filed by eight same-sex couples in the state, who were unable to list both parents' names on their children's birth certificates because the forms only allowed a mother and a father to be listed.[37][38] In January 2017, Attorney General Curtis Hill appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.[39]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

The 2009 edition of Indy Pride, Indiana's largest LGBT event, held annually in Indianapolis.

Transgender persons in Indiana may change their legal gender following a physician's statement that they have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition and a court order changing both their name and gender marker. Sex reassignment surgery is not required.[40]

On January 12, 2017, Representative Bruce Borders introduced a bill in the Indiana House of Representatives that would have prevented transgender people from changing their legal gender on their birth certificates.[41] Freedom Indiana stated the bill denied "the very existence of transgender people, the identity they live as and the person they have always known themselves to be."[42] One day later, Representative Cindy Kirchhofer, chair of the House Public Health Committee, denied the bill a hearing, effectively killing it.[43]

In March 2019, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles began offering a "gender X" option on driver's licenses. To request the "X" designation, applicants will need to present a certified, amended birth certificate that attests to the gender change or a signed, dated physician's statement confirming a permanent gender change.[44]

Hate crime law[edit]

Previously, Indiana collected data on "bias crimes", which had included sexual orientation bias since 2003, but did not criminalize them as hate crimes nor alter proposed sentencing requirements due to sexual orientation bias.[45][46] Such hate crimes, however, are banned federally under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

In April 2019, the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill with various controversial and contentious amendments on hate crimes. Unlike other hate crime laws in the United States, Indiana's law does not list specific categories, instead "[making] it an aggravating circumstance that a crime was committed with the intent to harm or intimidate an individual or a group of individuals because of certain perceived or actual characteristics". Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law on April 3.[47][48] The lact of a specific list of categories drew criticism and claims that it violates the vagueness doctrine. As a result of the law, judges may thus consider a stricter sentence for someone who committed a crime based on the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.[49]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) opinion poll found that 58% of Indiana residents supported same-sex marriage, while 34% opposed it and 9% were unsure.[50]

The same poll found that 66% of Indiana residents supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity. 25% were opposed.[51] Furthermore, 54% were against allowing public businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people due to religious beliefs, while 37% supported allowing such religiously-based refusals.[52]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1977)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes/No (Since 2017, sexual orientation only)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No/Yes (Varies by city and county)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No/Yes (Varies by city and county)
Hate crime law includes sexual orientation Yes (Since 2019)[48]
Same-sex marriages Yes (Since 2014)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2006)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2006)
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military Yes (Since 2011)
Transgender people allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender Yes
Third gender option Yes (Since 2019)[44]
Conversion therapy banned for minors No
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes (Since 2005)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Emblem-question.svg
Men who have sex with men allowed to donate blood Yes/No (Since 2015; one year deferral period)

See also[edit]

LGBT rights in the United States


  1. ^ "Indiana Sodomy Law". Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  2. ^ Indiana Statutory Rape Laws
  3. ^ "Supreme Court rejects gay marriage appeals from Indiana". WTHR 13 Indianapolis. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  4. ^ "Indiana State Senate to take action on marriage amendment", January 15, 2010, accessed April 9, 2011; WISHtv: Jim Shella, "Gay marriage ban goes to Indiana House once again", January 28, 2010 Archived August 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, accessed April 9, 2011
  5. ^ Allen, Kevin (March 29, 2011). "Indiana Senate OKs amendment to ban gay marriages". WSBT. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  6. ^ Young, Richard L. (June 25, 2014). "Entry on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment ... three cases, Baskin v. Bogan, Fujii v. Pence, and Lee v. Pence". U.S.D.C. S.D. Ind. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  7. ^ Supreme Court Delivers Tacit Win to Gay Marriage
  8. ^ a b c "Indy passes benefits for domestic partners". IDS. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  9. ^ "Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard OKs domestic partner benefits". Indy Star. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  10. ^ Patterson, James (August 5, 2005). "'Sexual orientation' policy remains sore spot for Ind. governor". Baptist Press. Retrieved April 9, 2011.
  11. ^ Briscoe, Tony (April 4, 2017). "Court: Civil Rights Act covers LGBT workplace bias". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^ Ruling Affirms Civil Rights Laws Protect Employees from Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Human Rights Campaign
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Cities and Counties with Non-Discrimination Ordinances that Include Gender Identity". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  14. ^ "Tippecanoe County Commissioners add gender identity to ordinance". Archived from the original on September 20, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  15. ^ Vanderburgh County expands sexual orientation protections
  16. ^ Anderson joins Indiana cities protecting LGBT rights
  17. ^ Carmel narrowly passes LGBT protections
  18. ^ a b c d e How local LGBT anti-discrimination laws vary in Indiana
  19. ^ Hammond Passes Non-discrimination Ordinance Protecting LGBT Hoosiers
  20. ^ Runevitch, Jennie. "Kokomo mayor signs LGBT protections ordinance, 5-4". Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  21. ^ Ervin, Jeremy (September 7, 2016). "Lafayette adds gender identity protection". Journal and Courier.
  22. ^ "Michigan City, Indiana - Code of Ordinances". Municipal Code Corporation. Retrieved November 10, 2016. Chapter 66: Human Relations
  23. ^ Munster's human rights ordinance adopted
  24. ^ Schneider, Grace (August 22, 2012). "New Albany anti-discrimination law draws raves from Kentucky". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved January 3, 2013. New Albany's new law bans discrimination in employment, education, housing and public accommodations based on an individual's actual or perceived [...] sexual orientation, gender identity
  25. ^ Valparaiso Approves LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance
  26. ^ "West Lafayette Human Relations Commission" (PDF). City of West Lafayette. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  28. ^ "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Now Protected in Marion County" (PDF). Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman. February 9, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 26, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  29. ^ "Indiana Gov. Pence defends religious objections law: 'This bill is not about discrimination'". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  30. ^ "NCAA 'concerned' over Indiana law that allows biz to reject gays". CNN. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  31. ^ Tom Davies (March 27, 2015). "Indiana officials look to stem religious objections fallout". Associated Press.
  32. ^ "Thousands march in Indiana to protest law seen targeting gays". Reuters. March 29, 2015.
  33. ^ "Hundreds rally against Indiana law, say it's discriminatory". Associated Press. March 28, 2015.
  34. ^ "Gov. Mike Pence signs RFRA fix". IndyStar. April 2, 2015.
  35. ^ "Indiana Adoption Law". Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  36. ^ Indiana legislature rules in favor of lesbian couples using donor insemination
  37. ^ Same-sex Indiana couple celebrates birth certificate win
  38. ^ Same-sex couples win birth certificate lawsuit
  39. ^ Wang, Stephanie (January 31, 2017). "State appeals ruling on parental rights for same-sex couples". Indy Star.
  40. ^ Changing Name and Gender Markers on Legal Documents
  41. ^ Bill Would Stop Trans People from Changing Sex on Birth Certificates LawNewz
  42. ^ Republican quashes anti-transgender bill The Indianapolis Star
  43. ^ Republican Lawmaker Makes Surprise Showing Of LGBT Support, Blocks Anti-Trans Bill NewNextNow
  44. ^ a b "Indiana driver's licenses now offer 'X' gender option for non-binary Hoosiers". March 11, 2019.
  45. ^ "A Guide to State Level Advocacy Following Enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" (PDF). Human Rights Campaign. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  46. ^ "Indiana Code 10-13-3 - Criminal History Information". Indiana General Assembly. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  47. ^ Bell, Brianna (April 3, 2019). "Indiana hate crimes bill signed into law". Jurist.
  48. ^ a b "Gov. Holcomb signs hate crimes bill without specific gender protections into law". Fox59. April 2, 2019.
  49. ^ "Former IN Supreme Court justice says new hate crimes law protects gender, gender identity". WTHR. April 3, 2019.
  50. ^ Public opinion on same-sex marriage by state: Indiana, PRRI – American Values Atlas
  51. ^ Public opinion on LGBT nondiscrimination laws by state: Indiana, PRRI – American Values Atlas
  52. ^ Public opinion on religiously based refusals to serve gay and lesbian people by state: Indiana, PRRI – American Values Atlas