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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 5, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 06
Indiana Senate kills 'civil rights bill' that excluded Trans residents
Section One
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Indiana Senate kills 'civil rights bill' that excluded Trans residents

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Indiana Senate Republican caucus killed a so-called 'civil rights bill' that would have offered some protections to Lesbian, Gay, and Bi residents but would have excluded Transgender people completely.

The measure was dropped February 2, only a week after it passed the Senate Rules Committee on a party-line vote, seven Republicans voting for it and one Republican joining four Democrats in voting no.

Senate President pro tem David Long, a Republican, said previously that the bill would be called for debate whether it had enough votes to pass or not, because of the importance of the subject.

Republicans offered no explanation for killing the bill, but both LGBT activists and enemies of Indiana's LGBT community had criticized it - one side because it did not go far enough to protect LGBT residents, and the other because it went too far.

In addition to leaving out Transgender people, the bill, known as SB 344, would have provided broad exemptions for religious organizations, faith-based groups, wedding services providers, and small businesses.

It would also have repealed Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) - known as the 'freedom to discriminate act' - and prevented local governments from passing new LGBT protections.

According to the Journal Gazette newspaper, 27 separate amendments had been filed, tightening or loosening regulations in one area or another.

Freedom Indiana called the bill 'deeply flawed' and wanted gender identity added to the measure. Nevertheless, the group blasted Republican lawmakers for killing it before it could reach a vote on the senate floor.

The LGBT organization wrote on Twitter, 'SHAMEFUL: #SB344 will not be heard on the Senate floor. Inaction is NOT a solution-this is a grave disappointment. [&] #SB344 was a deeply flawed bill-& we were working to fix it. But doing absolutely nothing? That's not a solution to a very real problem.[&] #LGBT Hoosiers face legalized discrimination each & every day. Inaction on #SB344 does NOTHING to fix that. #INLegis'

Indiana currently protects LGBT state employees against workplace discrimination, but it has no other laws on the books that protect LGBT residents. Private employers remain free to discriminate at will.

The bill's author, Republican Travis Holdman, said he was 'disappointed' that Indiana was 'not ready' to protect Gay rights.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said Democrats were willing to compromise on Transgender rights by providing protections in housing, or housing and employment, while leaving out public accommodations. However, Democrats would not have supported SB 344 in its current form, he said, without any Transgender protections at all.

'Indiana lawmakers must move forward legislation this session that would truly safeguard LGBT Hoosiers and visitors from discrimination,' said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs.

'These lawmakers cannot ignore their responsibility to move Indiana beyond the continuing damage they inflicted on the state last year with an anti-LGBT RFRA. Fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections are what the state desperately needs and what LGBT Hoosiers and visitors deserve.'

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