Civil Rights Bill Reaches Key Stage in Senate

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(Image of the Statehouse Interior Courtesy of The General Assembly.) (Image of the Statehouse Interior Courtesy of The General Assembly.)

The Indiana Senate is set Tuesday to vote on several amendments that would include gender identity in a civil rights bill involving protections for sexual orientation and active-duty members of the military. Senate Bill 344, which also includes exemptions designed to safeguard those with religious objections, passed through committee last week. The bill has until Wednesday to receive a final reading and vote on the Senate floor.

The amended bill, as it stands, calls for a study committee to review provisions for Hoosiers who are transgendered. Our partners at Network Indiana/WIBC report 18 states have comprehensive civil rights protections for the LGBT community.

The debate has been passionate from all sides since last year's approval and signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many argue opens the door for discrimination of LGBT Hoosiers. In the aftermath, legislators rushed to approve a measure that authors called a "fix," but did not explicitly offer protections for sexual orientation or identity. Amendments to SB 344 were approved in committee last week that would essentially remove and replace RFRA and the legislative "fix."

Authors of the bill say its purpose is to balance religious liberty and create additional protections. You can connect to a live stream of the Senate chamber by clicking here.

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