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By Eric Berman
Governor Pence doesn’t expect to announce a position on a civil rights bill for gays and lesbians until the legislative session is underway — and doesn’t rule out the status quo.
Pence says he’s been talking with voices on all sides of the LGBT debate, though he says it’s not his primary focus. He says formulating a bill which balances discrimination protections with constitutional guarantees of religious freedom is a challenge of “great complexity.”
And Pence says the deliberations include not only the struggle to find that balance, but whether the law needs to be changed at all. Supporters of a bill argue it’s needed in part to undo damage from this year’s religious freedom law, but Pence says Indiana’s continuing economic growth belies that rationale. He maintains the state has a strong reputation which has withstood the “difficulty” of the fierce debate over RFRA.
Pence shrugs off Democratic criticism for not staking out a position at the outset of the debate. He says he’ll give “guidance” to legislators sometime after they reconvene January 5.
Pence’s State of the State Address is January 12.
Both parties in the Senate have already introduced LGBT bills. Democrats have offered a “four words and a comma” addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes under civil rights law. Republicans’ bill incorporates the same language, but adds several sections aimed at discouraging frivolous lawsuits, pinpointing a definition of gender identity, and carving out a freedom-of-religion exception for religious groups and small family-owned businesses.SHARE THIS STORY