Indiana Lawmaker Introduces Bills on Civil Rights, Religious Liberty

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State Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle) introduced Senate Bill 344 on Thursday as an alternative approach to the effort to balance religious liberty and civil rights protections for gay and lesbian Hoosiers.

SB 344 would add sexual orientation, active duty military status, and veteran status as protected classes in Indiana’s civil rights laws for employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Previously, State Sen. Holdman filed SB 100 which dealt with the same issues of religious liberty and civil rights protection.

Here are some key differences between SB 344 and SB 100:

  • SB 100 requires local civil rights ordinances to conform to state law. SB 344 would leave existing ordinances in place, but going forward, local governments could not pass new civil rights ordinances that differ from state law.
  • SB 344’s sexual orientation provisions do not apply to businesses with five or fewer employees when the business is performing marriage-related services. SB 100’s exemption for marriage-related services is for businesses with three or fewer employees.
  • SB 100 includes a provision that allows for a $1,000 fine for making a frivolous discrimination claim intended to harm the subject of the complaint. SB 344 does not include this provision.

Holdman says he introduced SB 344 not as a replacement for SB 100, but as an alternative approach to further discussion and debate on the issues in both bills.

“As we all know, there is not consensus on this issue currently, and I believe having an alternative idea to consider will help move the debate forward in a constructive manner,” Holdman says.

Both bills are expected to be heard in committee later this month.

The text of both SB 344 and SB 100 can be found on the General Assembly’s website by clicking here

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