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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Senate Republicans file LGBT bill with religious exemptions"

Maureen Hayden, CNHI State Reporter, had this good story today in the Anderson Herald-Bulletin. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS — On a day when the Statehouse was filled with conflicting groups rallying for and against civil rights for gay and transgendered Hoosiers, Indiana Senate Republicans introduced what they hope is a blueprint for moving forward.

The proposed legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state’s civil rights law while also carving out exemptions for those who claim religious reasons as a basis to discriminate. It would put new language in state law to expand the nondiscrimination protections that already cover race, gender and age in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodations.

But it would also exempt some small businesses — plus churches and faith-based institutions, including private universities — from having to abide by those new protections.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, unveiled details to the media Tuesday afternoon, saying that if it passed “it would become the law of the land in Indiana.” * * *

Holdman said that in crafting the legislation, he opted in favor of religious liberty over blanket protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

An example: Holdman’s bill would negate local human rights ordinances that 17 Indiana communities — including New Albany — have adopted to protect their gay and transgendered residents. Holdman said many of those local ordinances don’t contain enough exemptions for people who object based on their religious beliefs.

He also built in a $1,000 penalty for anyone who files what he called a "frivolous" discrimination complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.

And the legislation would require transgender people to live as their preferred gender for at least one year, or provide medical verification of their status, before filing a discrimination complaint. It also takes on an issue that’s emerged in other states and communities that have moved to include gender identity in their civil rights law: It addresses the use of public bathrooms.

In the legislation, the state’s schools and businesses would be allowed to write their own policies on the use of bathrooms or showers based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. They also could decide for themselves what dress code to impose on students and workers.

Under the bill, those rules wouldn’t count as discriminatory.

House and Senate Democrats have called for simpler solution, saying a fix could be had by adding four words and a comma: “sexual orientation, gender identity” to the Indiana's civil rights law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 18, 2015 09:24 AM
Posted to Indiana Government