Its religious exemptions “are broader than the religious refusal law passed last spring that has marked IN as a state of intolerance, tarnished the state’s reputation, and deprived it of convention revenue”, Camilla Taylor, Counsel at Lambda Legal had warned.
The Senate Rules Committee adopted an amendment Wednesday that would effectively repeal the law.
Passage would send one or both to the full Senate.
The Republican-backed law garnered quick national backlash after it was signed by Gov. Mike Pence in March.
State lawmakers begin the debate over civil rights protections for the LGBT community. Since then, however, the issue has driven a wedge between social conservatives and the business wing of the Republican Party. And he says he struggled with balancing the sometimes-competing principles of religious freedom and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “What I believe about the bills, both of them, is that they take away liberty, they take away equality and they produce prejudices and encourage discrimination”. The other bill would allow cities to keep robust LGBT rights ordinances, but would exclude transgender people from statewide protections.
The bill provides religious exemptions for clergy and religious organizations, and marriage-related businesses with five or fewer people. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, voted against the bill.
Professor Robert Katz of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law wonders why this bill cherry-picks just six of those rights.
Barronelle Stutzman testified that people should not be forced to participate in events that conflict with their beliefs. But not without acknowledgement that the balance between expanded civil rights protections and religious freedom will be a hard one to strike. The group polled conventions that located elsewhere after critics said the religious objections law sanctioned discrimination against gay people.
The bill is still a long way from becoming law; the committee still must approve it before it could be taken up by the full Senate and House.
Even though Republicans have a majority in the Senate, it is by no means guaranteed that the bill will pass, one Republican did vote against the measure in committee.
During four and half hours of testimony, people from various backgrounds gathered at the Senate chamber for Wednesday’s committee hearing. That would include protections for anyone fired from a job, denied service or evicted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. 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 goal of the civil rights law. That led to the bill being condemned by LGBT supporters who say it does not go far enough. Under the bill, government would have to meet a strict scrutiny standard for claimed impingements on the right to worship, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assemblage or the right to bear arms, making it easy for an individual or any business, no matter how large, to use RFRA to challenge any number of laws.
In total, there are six anti-LGBT bills under consideration in Indiana’s legislature this year – including a vehemently discriminatory bill attacking transgender Hoosiers.
Business leaders were out front a year ago – corporations like Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Angie’s List – threatening to pull out of the state and support national boycotts.
This story has been corrected to state that Senate Judiciary Committee was considering proposed bill, not law.