01 April 2016

No Gay Rights Here in Indiana

David Long
The message was clear in the state of Indiana. Senate lawmakers will not talk about gays, lesbians and their imaginary rights, effectively killing its chances to become the most unpopular law.

After state Senate Republicans met in private last 2 February, some said lawmakers will not try to pass civil-rights legislation. Senate President Pro Tem David Long, a Fort Wayne Republican, was pushing for debate on Senate Bill 344, a controversial attempt at a compromise between extending rights for gay Hoosiers and protecting religious liberties.

The Indiana Senate is overwhelmingly Republican with 40 of 50 seats in GOP hands.

People on both sides had been bashing SB 344.

Gay-rights advocates said the protections didn't go far enough, particularly because they did not include transgender individuals. Religious conservatives said granting any rights to gay Hoosiers would trample on religious liberties.

Senators would have had to vote on the measure by 3 February, the deadline for sending proposals to the state House this legislative session.

The bill added sexual orientation as a protected class with exemptions for religious organizations, faith-based groups, wedding services providers and small businesses but omitted coverage for those who are transgendered, instead assigning a study committee to examine transgender discrimination and create possible future legislation to address the issue.