Civil Rights Bill OK'd By Senate Committee Protects 'LGB' But Not 'T'

Jan 28, 2016

Credit Jim Nix / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimnix/5039079018

A Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that aims to balance protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual Hoosiers and people faith. Those testifying in complete support of the measure were few and far between.

The proposed bill would codify protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity. It would not apply to small businesses, religious organizations, adoption agencies, and non-profits that do religious work. Still, that doesn’t satisfy people like Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington state florist who was sued after she refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.

“You’ll be sending a message to the citizens of Indiana that share my beliefs about marriage that they will not be tolerated,” she says. “They will be threatened, dragged into court, sued and lose their business.”

The bill does create a summer study committee on gender identity issues. But that’s not good enough for Rhiannon Carlson, a transgender Hoosier veteran.

“The bills, as they are written right now, are shameful and, frankly, cowardly,” she says. “They placate a few people who refuse to understand that we live in a pluralistic society.”

Some, such as Indiana Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Brinegar, say the bill isn’t perfect but a good first step in addressing LGBT rights. 

The committee approved the bill seven to five, with all four Democrats and one Republican voting against it.