Lawmakers just voted to pass SB 344—legislation that claims to protect LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination but falls far short of it’s goal.
This harmful legislation, as it stands amended, completely neglects and excludes transgender Hoosiers. That means it remains legal to fire someone, deny them housing or refuse them service just because of their gender identity.
The bill also creates expansive carve-outs and religious exemptions that go far beyond the catastrophic RFRA bill that lawmakers passed last year and that cost our state $60 million in losses according to a recent study.
In a statement, Indiana Competes initiative leader Peter Hanscom lamented tonight’s half-hearted attempt at advancing LGBT non-discrimination:
The legislature had a chance to strengthen Indiana tonight and make our state more competitive, but this opportunity was not seized.
The Hoosier business community has said from the beginning that Indiana must be a place that welcomes all, not most. We respect the legislative process and will continue to work with the General Assembly, but we will not support a final bill that does not provide for equal rights for the entire LGBT community.
Over 15 people—including members of the Indiana Competes coalition—testified at tonight’s public hearing on SB 344 about the damaging consequences of passing legislation that does anything less than fully protect LGBT Hoosiers from discrimination.
One common denominator of their testimonies was that equal rights aren’t equal when they are attributed to only some of the whole. In order to attract and retain top talent, particularly in an increasingly global marketplace that is dependent on a millennial workforce, Indiana businesses need to be able to point to statewide LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws to ensure their employees are protected.
Under SB 344, too many gay and transgender Hoosiers will remain vulnerable to discrimination.
We learned our lesson once with the passage of RFRA last year. In addition to the millions of dollars down the drain, this discriminatory legislation has discouraged local investments, driven out top talent, and continues to tarnish Indiana’s reputation as one of the best places to do business.
We hope that we don’t have to repeat history’s old mistakes. It’s time for Indiana to move on from this dark era by passing fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws. We respect the legislative process and will continue to work closely with lawmakers to add “sexual orientation, gender identity” to existing civil rights laws to ensure no LGBT Hoosier is left behind.