While Indiana Measure Limits Damage, LGBT Hoosiers Deserve Better

by Stephen Peters

Strong coalition built to keep fighting for full LGBT non-discrimination protections that cannot be undermined

WASHINGTON - Facing tremendous economic damage and mounting public pressure, particularly from leading businesses both in and outside of the state, Indiana lawmakers today moved to limit the scope and application of the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in important ways. However, the proposal fails to explicitly ensure that the RFRA won’t be used to undermine the full scope of Indiana existing non-discrimination laws. The proposal also falls far short of adding non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers to the state’s civil rights laws, and future legislative sessions have an obligation to return to fix both the RFRA and this glaring hole in Indiana’s laws protecting their own citizens.

Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the measure with the following statement:

"After a historic week where hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers and countless more leaders from Silicon Valley to the Brickyard 400 all spoke up to condemn S.B. 101, one thing is clear: the people of Indiana will never allow their state to be a home to discrimination. Though this legislation is certainly a step back from the cliff, this fight is not over until every person in Indiana is fully equal under the law. At the federal level and in all 50 states, the time has come in this country for comprehensive legal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people that cannot be undermined."

From the CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the world to small business owners in places like Evansville who declared they were "open for all," from four Indy PFLAG moms who gathered nearly 3,000 people on the steps of the Capitol last Saturday to the unprecedented full front page editorial from the Indy Star, to the nearly 80,000 emails sent to the Governor from people across the nation, the outcry of fair-minded Americans could not be ignored.

Major businesses – including Salesforce, Eli Lilly and Company, Alcoa, Cummins, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the NCAA, and more – played a lead role in negotiating the new measure that clarifies that the new law cannot be used to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, employment, and housing.

Statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers still do not exist, meaning discrimination is still legal in most of the state. Businesses in Indiana have made it clear that the state must pass a statewide non-discrimination law that protects all Hoosiers from discrimination and ensures that Indiana is seen as a welcoming place to visit and do business.

Yesterday, in response to a host of anti-LGBT bills pending or signed into law in states around the country like the new law in Indiana, tech industry leaders signed an unprecedented joint statement calling for the addition of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people to state and federal civil rights laws.

HRC is a founding member of the Freedom Indiana coalition—a campaign of state and national organizations who worked to try to stop the anti-LGBT bill from becoming law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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