Our Position: Senate Bill 100

December 1, 2015

On November 17, 2015, legislative leaders in the Indiana General Assembly introduced Senate Bill 100—legislation that, if improved, would update Indiana's civil rights law to add protections for gay and transgender Hoosiers from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Religious freedom is fundamentally important; that's why it's protected in our state and federal Constitutions. But that doesn't give any of us the right to discriminate against others. The most troubling parts of this legislation must be improved before it can achieve its aim of addressing discrimination against gay and transgender people in Indiana.

We applaud legislative leaders for recognizing that public accommodations—businesses that sell their goods and services to the general public—should be included in anti-discrimination protections, and for recognizing that transgender people, who experience some of the most extreme discrimination, are part of our community.

We are encouraged that lawmakers have made this issue a clear priority for 2016, but now that we've had a chance to review SB 100 in greater detail, our encouragement from this first step is tempered by the serious flaws in the legislation, as written, that would undermine current civil rights protections as well as seriously limit any added protections it affords to gay and transgender Hoosiers.

Religious freedom is fundamentally important; that's why it's protected in our state and federal Constitutions. But that doesn't give any of us the right to discriminate against others. The most troubling parts of this legislation must be improved before it can achieve its aim of addressing discrimination against gay and transgender people in Indiana.

Concerns about the draft legislation include:

  • It codifies second-class status for gay and transgender Hoosiers by carving out targeted religious exemptions.
  • It eliminates local authority to pass laws that provide greater protections for gay and transgender people, making conditions worse in places such as Indianapolis that currently have strong protections.
  • It permits discrimination against gay and transgender people regarding restrooms and dress codes.
  • It draws overly broad religious exemptions, including:

- Allowing gaping exemptions for wedding-related goods, services, and facilities—something at the heart of last year's outcry against the RFRA bill.

- Allowing taxpayer funding and other benefits to go to religiously affiliated nonprofit agencies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

- Allowing licensed medical and social service providers to discriminate or engage in unethical conduct when providing services to LGBTQ individuals without any repercussion to their accreditations or professional licenses.

- Allowing broad exemptions that alter civil rights protections for other classes of individuals.

These are not small concerns. This bill could allow a homeless shelter that receives government funding to turn away a single mother, or permit a religiously-affiliated hospital to deny someone the ability to make medical decisions for a same-sex spouse.

We look forward to educating Hoosiers on both the positive and negative aspects of this legislation, and to working with community members, faith leaders, and lawmakers over the coming weeks and months to make needed improvements to this bill, and to ensure gay and transgender people are protected under Indiana law.

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