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(STATE HOUSE) – A bill extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians has narrowly advanced to the full Senate.
The Senate Rules Committee voted 7-5 to endorse Senate Republicans’ version of a gay rights bill. Conservative Republican Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) voted no along with the committee’s four Democrats, who charge the bill doesn’t go far enough.
The gay-rights group Freedom Indiana swiftly labeled the bill “shameful.” The bill authored by Markle Republican Travis Holdman omits protections for transgender Hoosiers. The business coalition Indiana Competes, formed to lobby for the bill, and Freedom Indiana declared they won’t accept any bill which doesn’t include the transgendered.
The committee voted unanimously to incorporate into the bill a repeal of last year’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law which pushed LGBT rights to the front burner. The provision would incorporate into state law a 1993 Indiana Supreme Court decision on how judges should weigh religious freedom.
That didn’t sway national groups such as Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign, which quickly moved to equate the new bill with RFRA because of its exemptions for religious organizations, adoption agencies, and businesses with fewer than six employees.
A vote in the full Senate could come as early as Tuesday.