March 14 will represent three years since a milestone piece of local legislation was passed. With the eyes of the state upon us, the Kokomo Common Council voted to approve legislation that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens through the city’s human rights municipal code.
The council amended the human rights municipal code to include LGBT protections, specifically a ban on discrimination concerning a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to LGBT protections, council members voted to bar discrimination related to a person’s marital status, age or veteran status.
Kokomo was just one of several Indiana cities to take up this cause as the state failed to take similar actions. The importance of the Common Council's vote became even more obvious two years ago as word spread of President Donald Trump's intention to remove transgender protections first set into place under President Barack Obama.
“[The] administration was expected to revoke landmark guidelines issued to public schools in defense of transgender student rights, according to a draft document,” reported Reuters' Daniel Trotta. “The draft reverses Obama's signature initiative on transgender rights, which instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity. … The draft document, a joint effort of the Justice and Education departments, could be subject to change before it is sent to schools across the country.”
Those suspicious were confirmed a few days later, as the order was officially released.
And only this past October, The Washington Post reported that the Health and Human Services Department advocated requiring people identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, not the one with which they identify.
These moves on the federal level show why Kokomo's vote continues to be so important. At every higher level, politicians have refused to act in the interest of citizens. They have left municipalities to clean up the mess they've left unattended. If they had acted, cities like Kokomo wouldn't have to take up their own ordinances. It would already have been decided.
We once again praise the Common Council for their vision on this issue. It's a good thing we didn't wait for someone higher up the food chain to make a similar stand. We'd still be waiting for them to do the right thing.