A bill designed to extend protections for sexual orientation and active-duty members of the military is effectively dead for this legislative session. State Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-16) says the votes were not there to pass Senate Bill 344, which also included exemptions designed to safeguard those with religious objections.
Speaking on the Senate floor today, Long and bill author Travis Holdman (R-19) both argued that if Indiana lawmakers do not address the civil rights issue, federal courts will. There has been a strengthening call for state lawmakers to expand civil rights protections after the fallout of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. An amended version of the bill did not include protections based on gender identity, instead sending the issue to a study committee.
Indiana Competes, a coalition aiming to highlight the economic impact of increased civil rights protections, issued the following statement from Initiative Director Peter Hanscom:
“The Hoosier business community is deeply disappointed by the actions of the Indiana Senate today. From the outset, companies large and small organized together to work with lawmakers to find a sensible solution that provides equal protections for LGBT Hoosiers and tells the true story about the negative effects of RFRA on our state’s economy. Indiana’s economic competitiveness and the Hoosier brand have potentially been compromised again. Failure to continue working toward a remedy casts doubt on the sincerity of the Senate’s effort.
“SB 344 was a flawed bill, but it generated the most substantive conversation Indiana has seen regarding anti-discrimination legislation for the LGBT community.
“This issue will not disappear. The economic damage from RFRA still persists as equality plays a critical role in our economic success. A clear majority of Hoosiers support robust protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Business leaders remain committed to passing such protections in this legislative session and call loudly for leadership in the Statehouse to seriously address the issue."
Senator Travis Holdman (R-19) says the votes were not there to move the bill forward.