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LGBT rights bill dead for current session

Posted at 3:12 PM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 17:59:11-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- A bill aimed at balancing religious liberty and civil rights protections for gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual Hoosiers is dead in this year’s session of the Indiana General Assembly.

The bill, SB 344, had been expected to be called for discussion and amendment Tuesday for second reading in the full Senate.

Last week, a Senate committee approved the bill, which expanded civil rights to lesbian, gay and bi-sexual Hoosiers, but not transgender Hoosiers.

PREVIOUS | Senate to hold discussion on civil rights bill as early as Monday | State committee approves civil rights bill | Proposed change to civil rights bill includes gender identity in housing, employment 

At least 27 amendments had been filed for consideration.

The push came after last year’s uproar over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents said would legalize discrimination against gay and lesbian Hoosiers.

MORE | Pence signs Religious Freedom bill into law

SB 344 officially dead. Senate President Long argues neither side was "truly seeking a solution." @rtv6

In a statement, Sen. Travis Holdman, one of the authors of the bill said: 

“After several months of honest, good-faith discussions, it has become apparent that Senate Bill 344 lacks the support in the Senate to advance further. As a result, I will not be calling the bill for further debate in the Senate. I’m disappointed by this outcome, because I believe the balanced approach outlined in this bill would be a step forward for our state. I respect the thoughtful, reasoned approach that my colleagues in the Senate have brought to this debate, but it appears that the timing is not right at this point.

“While my legislation is not advancing this session, the underlying issue is not going away. I’m hopeful that those on all sides of the debate can eventually come together and reach compromise. If we fail to do that, there is a very real possibility that the courts will do it for us, and I don’t think that is in the best interest of the state – either for the protection of our friends in the LGBT community, or our friends who seek to protect religious liberty.”

Freedom Indiana released the following statement: 

"The fact that Senate Bill 344 won't be heard on the Senate floor is incredibly disappointing given strong statewide support for updating our civil rights law and all the work that has been done thus far at the Statehouse to keep this conversation going.

"This bill and others introduced this session were deeply flawed, but we were working hard to fix Senate Bill 344.

"We've said from the outset that doing nothing was not an option. Today, lawmakers did nothing to help protect LGBT people in our state, but our work is only just beginning.

"The issue of legal discrimination against hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers will not go away, and we will continue to fight this session to update our civil rights law and undo the damage done to our state last year.

"The legislative process is just that -- a process. The conversation should continue in the coming weeks and months, not be shut down without a vote on the Senate floor."

Indiana Competes released the following statement: 

“The Hoosier business community is deeply disappointed by the actions of the Indiana Senate today. From the outset, companies large and small organized together to work with lawmakers to find a sensible solution that provides equal protections for LGBT Hoosiers and tells the true story about the negative effects of RFRA on our state's economy. Indiana’s economic competitiveness and the Hoosier brand have potentially been compromised again. Failure to continue working toward a remedy casts doubt on the sincerity of the Senate’s effort.

“SB 344 was a flawed bill, but it generated the most substantive conversation Indiana has seen regarding anti-discrimination legislation for the LGBT community.

“This issue will not disappear. The economic damage from RFRA still persists as equality plays a critical role in our economic success. A clear majority of Hoosiers support robust protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Business leaders remain committed to passing such protections in this legislative session and call loudly for leadership in the Statehouse to seriously address the issue.”


The Indy Chamber released the following statement: 

"Senate Bill 344, while not perfect, was a major step forward in extending protections to LGBT Hoosiers - and ultimately helping Indiana remain competitive for top talent and investment. Despite its failure in the Senate, the expansion of statewide non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity remains squarely on the pro-business agenda. An open and inclusive culture is part of a healthy business climate and we've worked hard to encourage that kind of environment here. Inaction, or any bill that does not advance the issue, only serves to put roadblocks in the way of advancement, a price our economy cannot afford to pay.

We appreciate the leadership of senators David Long and Travis Holdman on this issue and for allowing this thoughtful debate."

ACLU of Indiana released the following statement: 

"It is extremely disappointing that lawmakers did not allow a vote to occur on the Senate floor today regarding an update to our civil rights law, an update that could have finally put to rest the question of equal protection for LGBT people in Indiana. Lawmakers left this crucial issue unanswered despite our tireless efforts to help fix the deeply flawed legislation, and despite strong support across the state from faith leaders, business leaders and public officials interested in moving Indiana forward.

As Hoosiers and as Americans, we need to stand against discrimination and resolve this issue that has divided our state and inflicted real and persistent damage. Doing nothing has never been an acceptable option. Hoosiers need full protection from discrimination now. As important members our community, gay and transgender people need to be able to work, live and take care of themselves and their families without fear of discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. We will continue to fight during this legislative session to update our civil rights law and undo the damage done to our state by last year's RFRA."

John Gregg, Democratic candidate for governor, released the following statement: 

“Never has the intolerance of so few, hurt the reputation of so many. The failure of Governor Pence to provide any leadership to address the crisis he created is inexcusable.  Until we update Indiana’s civil rights statute our economy and reputation will continue to suffer. I remain committed to adding four words and a comma to our civil rights code so, together, all Hoosiers can move forward.”      

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce released the following statement: 

“Compromise should not be viewed as a four-letter word. Extremely passionate advocates and opponents on this issue have deemed compromise of any kind a bad outcome – when compromise is typically how things get done in the Legislature.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing that the Senate was unable to move this critical issue forward. Senators Holdman and Long deserve credit for their efforts, but the bottom line is that this inaction – coupled with the RFRA black eye last spring -- leaves Indiana at a disadvantage in the recruitment, attraction and retention of talented individuals.

“All of our state leaders must find a way to work together to craft a solution; the Indiana Chamber will continue to advocate for expanded civil rights protections.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett released the following statement: 

“Today’s decision by legislative leaders to abandon a discussion of civil rights is incredibly disappointing. Over the last year, Indianapolis neighborhoods have felt the multimillion dollar impact of this debate – in an effort to develop jobs, in our search for a talented workforce, and when we are soliciting national convention business.

Indianapolis has extended civil rights protections to LGBT residents and visitors for more than a decade, and our community has only been strengthened by welcoming all. By refusing to take a step forward in the march toward equality this year, the General Assembly risks Indiana falling even more behind.”

Drew Anderson, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party, issued the following statement: 

“It’s baffling how after a $250 million economic panic and the state on the brink of losing its ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ reputation, Mike Pence and Statehouse Republicans still cannot put their out-of-touch ideology aside and do the right thing for the state of Indiana. Mike Pence and Republicans say they ‘abhor discrimination’ – but by doing nothing, they are actively promoting it. This negligence will only continue the long-term effects Indiana has suffered under Mike Pence’s RFRA. Hoosiers deserve a governor who won’t put his personal ideology ahead of the state’s overall well-being. That person is John Gregg – who supports across the board protections for LGBT Hoosiers. As it stands today, Mike Pence and Statehouse Republicans have embarrassed Indiana once again.”

Kara Brooks, Press Secretary for Gov. Pence, released the following statement: 

“Governor Pence respects the outcome of the legislative process and appreciates the civility with which this issue was debated. In the remaining days of the session, the governor looks forward to working with members of the General Assembly to strengthen our economy, roads, schools and health care.”

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement: 

“It is disappointing that the Indiana legislature has failed to act to protect LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination. Surely we can agree that it is important for all Hoosiers to feel welcome in our state and for Indiana to be an attractive home to the businesses that create jobs and opportunities for our families. I remain hopeful that ultimately we will unite around civil rights protections for all Hoosiers.”


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