Vanderburgh County expands sexual orientation protections

FILE - Scott Spychala waves a rainbow flag outside the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Friday, June 26, 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the U.S. (AP File Photo/Michael Conroy)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Officials in southwestern Indiana’s Vanderburgh County have expanded its anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The county commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to add those categories along with age to the ordinance. The county ordinance will now cover the same areas as its largest city of Evansville adopted in 2011.

But the county ordinance makes it voluntary for a person or business accused of sexual-orientation discrimination to respond to the allegations.

Human Relations Commission attorney David Kent says the county ordinance will allow officials to see whether discrimination problems are happening outside the city limits.

Valparaiso, Kokomo, Carmel and Columbus are among Indiana cities that have adopted sexual-orientation protections since the uproar over Indiana’s 2015 religious-objections law, which opponents argued sanctioned discrimination against gays.