Thursday, January 28, 2016

Indiana Senate Committee Advances Bill that leaves out the Transgender Community

Yesterday, Indiana's Senate committee stopped SB 66, an strong anti-gay RFRA bill.

But the fight wasn't over, later that day, the same group heard SB 100 and SB 344. SB 100 would create LGBT protections state wide, similar to the already existing anti-discrimination protections already based on race, disability and age. SB 100 would also give exemptions to small businesses and religious organizations.

SB 344 would allow cities to keep their ordinances, but not provide protections for the transgender community. Well, after the debate, SB 344 advanced to the Senate. The organization, Indiana Competes responded to the decision:
This evening, members of Indiana Competes, a coalition of more than 425 Hoosier businesses and associations, joined LGBT rights supporters and faith leaders to testify before the Senate Rules Committee. Senate Bill 344 was amended and passed out of committee and will be up for consideration by the full Senate. The following statement should be attributed to Peter Hanscom, initiative director of Indiana Competes:

“The legislature had a chance to strengthen Indiana tonight and make our state more competitive, but this opportunity was not seized. We want to believe the General Assembly is sincere in their efforts to pass meaningful legislation to eliminate discrimination, but tonight’s hearing showed Indiana missing another opportunity.

“The Hoosier business community has said from the beginning that Indiana must be a place that welcomes all, not most. We respect the legislative process and will continue to work with the General Assembly, but we will not support a final bill that does not provide for equal rights for the entire LGBT community.

“Business owners, faith leaders and anti-discrimination supporters have shared the message tonight that Senate Bill 344 is still woefully inadequate because it leaves out the transgender community and provides numerous allowances for additional discrimination. That is not the answer.”
Freedom Indiana also responded:
“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. We will continue to work with lawmakers to fix this bill, but we are disappointed that they have not made the substantive changes we know a majority of Hoosiers want to make our state open and welcoming to all people.
This battle continues.

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