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Monday, November 30, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana's proposed new religious freedom plan draws ire"

That was the headline to this long Nov. 26th story in the Gary Post-Tribune, reported by Michelle L. Quinn and Carrie Napoleon. Some quotes:

While downstate Indiana lawmakers seek to reopen the discussion on civil rights and religious freedom, local municipal leaders aren't happy with some of the proposed changes. * * *

Protections that 20 municipalities have carved out for the LGBT community, meanwhile, would be superseded, a point over which the Lake County Council expressed disbelief. That council passed an LGBT protection ordinance in May.

"Wow, I think it's unfortunate," said Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington, D-Merrillville. "They're taking away power from local government, and (after the Religious Freedom bill debacle in the spring), I think it's ridiculous they're even discussing it at all.

And Sunday the Bloomington Herald-Times' Megan Banta reported in this lengthy $$ story:

Bloomington officials have serious concerns about the harm they think could result from a bill that state lawmakers will consider during the 2016 session.

The bill, released earlier this month and backed by Senate Republicans, would extend state civil rights protections to LGBT people. But it also would carve out broad exemptions for religious institutions and some small businesses that object to working with gay people. If it becomes law, it also would bar local governments from enforcing protections stricter than its statewide protections.

Barbara McKinney, assistant city attorney and director of the city’s human rights commission, said the bill has so many exceptions that they “kind of swallow up the protections.” * * *

Mayor Mark Kruzan said the proposal tries to complicate and create controversy around what should be a simple issue. It would set back Bloomington and other cities that have been ahead of the state in extending protections, he said.

“It would roll back progress the city of Bloomington made many years ago and has continued to make,” Kruzan said. “Whether it’s done out of bigotry or as a strategy to force a compromise, it’s 19th century politics in the 21st century.”

City council member Darryl Neher agrees that the bill goes against the city’s history of leading the way in protecting residents who face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and said the bill sanctions discrimination in some cases against LGBT Hoosiers.

And on Wednesday, he and his fellow council members will discuss an ordinance that clearly states that that’s something for which Bloomington doesn’t stand, something Neher said is the right thing to do and continues the city’s commitment to protecting the LGBTQ community.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 30, 2015 09:06 AM
Posted to Indiana Government