Last Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee of Indiana proposed a bill that gives civil rights protections to gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but does nothing to help transgender people who are evicted, fired from their jobs or denied service because of their gender identity. It would also still allow small wedding service providers, some adoption agencies and religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation.The bill was instantly criticized by Democrats and LGBT rights supporters for not going far enough.
Ever since Indiana introduced a controversial religious objections law last year, republican politicians have sought ways to add LGBT civil rights protections into state law, while also making exemptions for religious people.
Chris Paulsen, campaign manager of Freedom Indiana, released a statement calling the bill a “complete disappointment”:
“Lawmakers still aren’t listening. Tonight, they took a bad bill and made it worse for LGBT people in our state who have to live each day in fear that they could be fired, denied housing or turned away from a public place for who they are. Senate Bill 344 continues to fall far short of ending legal discrimination against LGBT people in our state. As amended, it repeals the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act but replaces it with substandard protections that omit transgender people entirely and provide religious carveouts that undermine the very purpose of the civil rights law. ”
The future of the bill is far from certain. Republican Governor Mike Pence stated he will prioritize religious “freedom” over LGBT rights and the leader of the Indiana House also put a damper on the bill’s chances. “I’ve yet to talk to someone who thinks the bill is a good idea, with just a couple of few exceptions,” House Speaker Brian Bosma said last Thursday.
Senate President David Long was open to “improvements” and stated to still have reservations about transgender issues, particularly about transgender acces to bathrooms and locker rooms conforming with their gender identity.
the bill comes before the full Senate on Monday or Tuesday.