While many people were focused on celebrating the holidays at the end of December, some legislators in Indiana had other things on their mind. Indiana Senate Bill 35, which Senator Tomes introduced, would require transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for the gender they were assigned at birth. For adults, a violation could be punishable with up to one year in jail and $5,000 in fines. During the same period, Senators Young, Boots and Banks filed SB 66, which, if passed, would place the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that legislators passed in March into the state's constitution after stripping out the exemption for non-discrimination protections.
Last November, Republican lawmakers pre-filed legislation that purports to address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but the proposal includes religious carve-outs that would allow some for-profit businesses to refuse LGBT people service, among other issues. The bill’s religious exemptions go far beyond those already found in existing Indiana law, would nullify existing local non-discrimination ordinances, and prohibit others from being enacted. Democratic lawmakers have proposed simply adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics under the state’s civil rights law, while Governor Mike Pence has made no mention of LGBT non-discrimination protections in his 2016 legislative agenda.
HRC, along with the ACLU of Indiana and Lambda Legal, is a founding member of Freedom Indiana. We’re on the ground working with local partners to fight back this discriminatory legislation and secure anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers and visitors in state law.