Indiana City Passes LGBT Protection OrdinancePassing the ordinance sends a message to state lawmakers that LGBT protections are needed.

The community of Kokomo, Indiana, officially banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender this week.

A human rights ordinance will now provide protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and ban discrimination on the basis of marital status, age or veteran status.

The ordinance passed 5-4 and Mayor Greg Goodnight signed it early on Tuesday. It is estimated that around 400 people attended the public hearing, but due to fire code regulations, only 157 people were allowed inside council chambers. Supporters and people opposed to the new ordinance attended the hearing.

Speaking to council members, one supporter said, “It’s not something we want. It’s something we need because it’s only right.”

Christian Smith, a resident of Kokomo, said, “I’m just elated this passed. I have gay friends. I have transgender friends, and to know that they can go get jobs without having to worry that they could get fired for being gay or transgender… I think it’s great news.”

There remain people who are not pleased with the decision. Pastor Steve Branstutter said, “The LGBT wants to talk about discrimination but the discrimination has turned to the other side.”

Another pastor, Brian Hughes, said, “The council was determined to go ahead and pass this bill, this ordinance, and so they decided to do what they were going to do and there was really no stopping them.”

Council members say they received threats concerning the ordinance over the past two weeks. Council President Robert Hayes said, “One of our members was basically told, ‘You’d better vote no, or else,’ and I won’t go into what the ‘or else’ was. But he has filed a police report on that.”

Hayes said that he received emails with content that “no elected official should receive.” He said, “When I get emails invoking my dead mother, saying she’d be weeping at my vote, well, you don’t know my mother. She’d say ‘atta boy. Go get ‘em and speak your mind. I certainly hope we haven’t come to the point where we cannot agree to disagree in a civil manner without intimidation and, in some cases, outright bigotry.”

Passing the ordinance sends a message to state lawmakers about supporting LGBT rights as human rights. Hayes said, “They should have acted. We didn’t need to do this, had they taken on the mantle and done something. Kokomo is stepping out ahead of that initiative.”