LAMBDA Legal Press Release – April 2, 2015 – Today, the Indiana legislature proposed a limited fix it bill that would amend the recently passed, so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). Introduced by Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate Leader Pro Tem David Long, SB 50 takes an important step to reduce the threat to LGBT Hoosiers but fails actually to protect them from discrimination or to prevent use of the RFRA to justify other harms. Jennifer C. Pizer, National Director of Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project, released the following statement:
“This bill reduces the threat but is far less than this situation requires. It recognizes there are problems, but does not fix it as LGBT Hoosiers and others urgently need. Now that there’s broad public understanding that gay and transgender people in much of Indiana are terribly vulnerable to arbitrary discrimination by businesses, refusal of housing, and being fired just for being who they are–and even Gov. Pence has agreed that that is wrong—that unacceptable situation requires a full solution. We’ve provided multiple options of straightforward bill language. This is not a complicated or novel task. Many states have done it with only positive results economically and socially. The time is now. America is watching.
“Indiana’s RFRA is an ill-conceived law that invites religiously motivated refusals to comply with laws that protect everyone. The state’s elected leadership today has taken one step to reduce these refusal problems by amending the RFRA to ensure compliance with civil rights laws. Now they need to complete the fix by actually providing those basic protections that LGBT people need to be equal and safe in the Hoosier State, and by further amending RFRA to prevent it from being used to excuse any harm to other people.
“The local voices, organizations as well as national business and government leaders who have been insisting on a full and proper response in Indiana are right. This job should be finished before this legislative session ends and Governor Pence leaves on vacation if state leadership wants to show their claims about opposing discrimination are sincere.
“Freedom Indiana, ACLU of Indiana and the chorus of business leaders and thousands of individuals have raised an inspiring, urgent call that Indiana should reject discrimination in deed as well as word, and should honor faith, love and commitment by making the Hoosier State welcoming and secure for everyone.
“We will continue to work in Indiana and nationwide to ensure that LGBT people are not placed in harm’s way by bills that invite discrimination against them. And, we urge anyone who experiences discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity explained as due to others’ religious beliefs to contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk.”