LGBT Supporters React, Civil Rights Bill Dies When Senate Declines To Vote

Feb 2, 2016

Legislation to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual Hoosiers from discrimination died in the Indiana Senate.
Credit Brandon Smith / http://www.ipbs.org/

The Indiana Senate killed a bill Tuesday that would have protected lesbian, gay, and bisexual Hoosiers from discrimination.

The final version of the bill did not protect the transgender community. 

The proposed measure had 27 potential amendments filed on the Senate floor. 

But none of them were publicly discussed after Senate Republican leadership opted not to call the bill to the floor for a vote.

GOP leader David Long says there just wasn’t support for the bill.

“I wanted to have a discussion on the floor in the Senate, but I respect my caucus’ wishes,” he says. “And in the end, a very strong, strong, high percentage said ‘Let’s not go through this if, in the end, the bill won’t move.’“

Long says transgender protections were a major sticking point for both parties, and lawmakers on both sides of the LGBT rights and religious freedom debate testified against the bill.

Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane says his caucus was willing to compromise, and accept minimal protections for transgender Hoosiers.

“Is it right that you should be able to discriminate and say, ‘No, we won’t rent to you, we won’t sell you a house because you’re transgender?’” he asks. “We thought that was a no-brainer only to be told that, under no circumstances will transgender go into the bill.”

“Disappointing” is the word LGBT advocacy groups use to describe the lack of action.

Freedom Indiana campaign manager Chris Paulsen says the decision to not vote on the bill is unacceptable.

“There’s tens of thousands of transgender Hoosiers, hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Hoosiers and almost 450 businesses that are based right here that said this issue is the most important thing to them right now,” Paulsen says.

Peter Hanscom represents Indiana Competes, a coalition of those businesses advocating for LGBT rights.  He says his group wanted more from legislators.

“Lawmakers declared that it’s acceptable that it remain in Indiana legal to fire someone from their job because they’re gay or transgender, deny them access to a house, kick them out of a public place,” he says.

But the American Family Association of Indiana says killing the bill was a wise move. 

The religious conservative group calls the measure a fatally-flawed concept that punished citizens for their beliefs, and says the legislature has more important issues to deal with.   

Long and Lanane say the issue won’t go away.  Long says he plans to debate the bill again next year.