Indiana Republicans Give Up: LGBT Protections Will Be Added To ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

The Indiana Star is reporting that new LGBT anti-discrimination language will be added to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This would make it so that business would not be able to discriminate against LGBT people under the law. The bill would still allow non-profit groups and churches to discriminate against LGBT people.

The Indiana Star reports on the story:

The measure could put to rest some of the harsher criticisms that Indiana Republicans have suffered through in the past week. But it is unlikely to make either liberal or conservative activists happy and easily prefaces a future Statehouse battle over LGBT protections.

The measure also has the potential to quell some of the incredible damage Pence has endured in the past week, punctuated by David Letterman’s recitation of an entire Top 10 list specifically mocking the first-term governor.

A copy of proposed language obtained by The Indianapolis Star was presented to Pence Wednesday morning. It was then the subject of negotiations among the Republican leaders, lawmakers and business leaders in back-to-back-to-back private meetings throughout the day.

The flurry of activity culminated in a second round of private caucus meetings for Republican House and Senate members at about 5 p.m., where consensus on the new “clarifying” language was reached.

The compromise legislation specifies that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against patrons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The move to add the LGBT protections to the RFRA comes after a massive national outcry against the law, and against Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Some people who are opposed to the law says that the LGBT protections do not go far enough, and still believe that the people might be able to discriminate against LGBT people.

Katie Blair, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, said in a statement:

We understand that lawmakers are working to ‘fix’ the Indiana RFRA that has done so much harm to Indiana over the past week, but we want to make it clear that we need full protection from discrimination against all LGBT Hoosiers across the state and a guarantee that this RFRA cannot be used to undermine any nondiscrimination protections. According to current media reports, the proposal being considered falls far short of these principles, leaving the door wide open for discrimination.”

Now that the most egregious parts of the Indiana RFRA have been removed, it will be interesting to see if there is still enough will left to get rid of the law altogether.


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