Chamber Deems Civil Rights Law Expansion 'Necessary'

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Kevin Brinegar says "the time has come for Indiana to expand protections against potential discrimination." Kevin Brinegar says "the time has come for Indiana to expand protections against potential discrimination."
INDIANAPOLIS -

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is supporting an expansion of Indiana's civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity. The business advocacy organization says its more than 100-member board of directors "overwhelmingly" voted to take the position. President Kevin Brinegar says the chamber believes broadening the protection is "a necessary action for the General Assembly to take." He says expansion would boost talent recruiting, retention and attraction efforts by the business community and increase competitiveness and respect in the work place.

Brinegar says "after the negative perception of our state generated by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the spring, we need to get this right in order to secure the reputation of Indiana as a hospitable and welcoming place."

The policy announcement comes less than two weeks before legislators will return to the Statehouse for Organization Day, which is the official start of the 2016 General Assembly.

During an interview last month on Inside INdiana Business Television, Governor Mike Pence was asked what he was hearing from the business community and what he'd like to see happen regarding RFRA. Pence said "I'd let them (the business community) speak for themselves," but he added it's important to "listen respectfully on all sides." He said Hoosiers don't tolerate discrimination and neither does he, but emphasized his administration is studying the legislative issue carefully. Pence said "it is yet to be seen. We've come to no conclusion" on whether he thinks there will be legislative action related to RFRA in the upcoming session.

President Kevin Brinegar tells Inside INdiana Business the policy decision was triggered by last year's reaction to the approval of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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