LGBTQ Legal Rights in Indiana: What You Need to Know

Doug Mann

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Table of Contents
  1. Same-Sex Marriage
  2. Indiana LGBT Adoption
  3. LGBT Health Care Protections
  4. Employment Law
  5. Conversion Therapy Protections
  6. Transgender Rights 
  7. Contact an Attorney

Indiana does not have a statewide law that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination. This means that a person can still be fired, denied housing, or refused service simply because of whom they love or how they identify. 

Nonetheless, as of January 5, 2021, a number of Indiana municipalities have passed local ordinances banning LGBTQ discrimination, either for sexual orientation or gender identity, in employment, housing, and public accommodations:

The following municipalities have fully comprehensive nondiscrimination protections which protect LGBTQ people in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodation:

  • City of Anderson
  • City of Bloomington
  • City of Carmel
  • City of Columbus
  • City of Crawfordsville
  • City of Evansville
  • City of Hammond
  • City of Kokomo
  • City of La Porte
  • City of Lafayette
  • City of Michigan City
  • City of Muncie
  • City of Munster
  • City of New Albany
  • City of South Bend
  • City of Terre Haute
  • City of Valparaiso
  • City of West Lafayette
  • City of Zionsville
  • Indianapolis-Marion County
  • Monroe County
  • Tippecanoe County
  • Vanderburgh County

The following municipalities protect people from discrimination in housing on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity: 

  • City of Andrews
  • City of Carmel
  • City of Clinton
  • City of Greenfield
  • City of Huntingburg
  • City of Kirklin
  • City of Linton
  • City of Madison
  • City of Morgantown
  • City of Mount Vernon
  • City of North Manchester
  • City of Prince’s Lake
  • City of Rushville
  • City of Sheraton
  • City of South Whitley
  • City of Thorntown
  • City of Union City
  • City of Vincennes
  • City of Washington
  • City of Waterloo
  • Bartholomew County
  • Cass County
  • Clark County
  • Knox County
  • Ripley County

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage has been lawful in Indiana since 2015, thanks to Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Obergefell is a landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.  

As a result, the following benefits are available to all married same-sex couples on the same basis as they are available to married different-sex couples:

  • Medical Decision-Making Authority for Married Same-Sex Couples
  • Stepparent Adoption for Married Same-Sex Couples (see below)
  • Joint Adoption for Married Same-Sex Couples (see below)

Indiana LGBT Adoption

Indiana law permits any individual resident of the state or married couple to petition to adopt.

State law permits any married person to adopt the child of their spouse via stepparent adoption. With nationwide recognition of marriage equality, an individual should be permitted to adopt the child of their same-sex spouse via stepparent adoption. 

Indiana allows second-parent adoption, permitting a child’s sole legal parent to specify a second adult to adopt a child without losing any parental rights.

In 2006, the state Court of Appeals ruled that an unmarried couple, same- or opposite-sex, may file a joint petition to adopt a child. The Indiana Supreme Court refused to hear the case, leaving the Court of Appeals ruling in place.

LGBTQ rights we still don’t have:

  • Parental Leave Laws for Same-Sex Couples
  • Non-Discrimination Laws for Same-Sex Couples Looking to Adopt
  • Non-Discrimination Laws for Foster Care

LGBT Health Care Protections

The State of Indiana offers no legal protections against discrimination in health care and health insurance on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This has many practical negative effects on the LGBTQ community. 

A substantial body of research indicates that LGBTQ populations across the United States encounter significant barriers to health care. Specifically, they have difficulty finding providers who are knowledgeable about their needs, encounter discrimination from insurers or providers, or delay or forego care because of concerns about how they will be treated. In the absence of federal legislation prohibiting healthcare discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT people are often left with little recourse when discrimination occurs. 

Employment Law

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark 6-3 decision affirming that the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This decision resulted from three cases: Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, in which gay men were fired because of their sexual orientation, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, where a transgender woman was fired because of her gender identity. The Supreme Court combined these cases and issued a single opinion—Bostock v. Clayton County—in which it held that “an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”

Conversion Therapy Protections

No matter how many studies come out disproving the effectiveness of conversion therapy, it continues to happen. This is one bill that Indiana LGBT groups hope to pass at a state level; however, there are many ways where a bill may go wrong. For instance, Utah passed a ban on the practice, but it is only illegal for non-religious leaders to perform.

At this moment in time, there are no cities or counties in Indiana that have banned conversion therapy. However, there is still hope for the future of these bills coming to pass across the state. 

Transgender Rights 

Indiana law allows a person to change his or her name and gender on their birth certificate. Although specific gender correction language is not provided, the State Department of Vital Records will issue an amended birth certificate upon receipt of a court order. 

In addition to birth certificates, transgender individuals in Indiana have the right to change their name and gender on driver’s licenses. For those that identify as non-binary, Indiana also presents that as a legal option too for licenses.

Contact an Attorney

Much progress in the area of LGBTQ legal rights has been made, but there’s much more work to be done in Indiana.

Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz will always be ready and willing to defend LGBTQ+ rights – our friends, employees, and family all make up a part of this community, and we would do the same for them.

Contact us if you believe you have been discriminated against because of your LGBTQ status, and we will represent you to the full extent of the law.

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