KOKOMO, Ind. — In a victory for LGBT residents of small cities everywhere, the Common Council of Kokomo, Ind., on Monday night voted 5-4 in favor of legislation that will extend protections to LGBT citizens through the city’s human rights municipal code.
Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, an advocate of the non-discrimination ordinance, will likely sign the measure into law on Tuesday.
Prior to passing the council, the non-discrimination clause became a heavily scrutinized and debated topic across the entire state of Indiana. Democratic council member Steve Whikehart, who voted in favor of the legislation and publicly supported it during its germination, said he received nearly 300 phone calls over the past week concerning the ordinance.
“This bill was just focused on the future, and so many of us are in the same stance,” said Whikehart. “It’s been paramount to me that we send a message across the state and nation that Kokomo is a welcome and inclusive community.”
The new measure will amend Kokomo’s existing human rights municipal code to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to a person’s age, marital or veteran status. According to the Kokomo Tribune, “Local municipal protections were formerly given only to residents based on race, religion, color, sex, familial status, disability, national origin and ancestry.”
Common Council President Bob Hayes, who also supported the legislation, on Monday night highlighted the scope and impact of the non-discrimination ordinance on the city he serves.
“I do understand the true historical significance of tonight,” Hayes said. “[…As] an elected official, there are times when we need to lead, and I think this council led when they needed to.”