MEDIA ADVISORY – FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
January 26, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — Freedom Indiana, the statewide grassroots organization fighting to update existing Indiana laws against discrimination to include gay and transgender people, today released its schedule of events at the Statehouse for Wednesday, Jan. 27, when lawmakers will consider a dangerous “Super RFRA” bill and two pieces of legislation that fall far short of providing actual protections against discrimination for gay and transgender people in Indiana.
Freedom Indiana will have staff and supporters at the Statehouse throughout the day and will release testimony as prepared for delivery prior to each committee hearing. Please contact [email protected] to arrange interviews outside of the schedule of events below. All times are Eastern.
Faith leaders will greet lawmakers inside the North entrance of the Statehouse
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing of Senate Bill 66 (Super RFRA)
Note: There are eight bills scheduled to be heard in this committee. Senate Bill 66 is listed first but may not be heard first.
Faith leaders will lead moment of prayer in Statehouse Rotunda
Freedom Indiana anti-RFRA, pro-nondiscrimination rally in the Statehouse Rotunda
Faith leaders will lead Jericho prayer walk through the halls of the Statehouse
Senate Rules Committee hearing of Senate Bills 100 and 344 (nondiscrimination)
Note: These are the only two bills scheduled to be heard in this committee. The hearing is expected to take four hours.
ABOUT SENATE BILL 66
Senate Bill 66 would enact a new RFRA and create sweeping exemptions that encourage people to pick and choose which laws they’re going to follow. Under the bill, government would have to meet a strict scrutiny standard for claimed impingements on the right to worship, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assemblage or the right to bear arms, making it easy for an individual or any business, no matter how large, to use RFRA to challenge any number of laws.
This would potentially affect not just existing and potential nondiscrimination protections, but it could be used to challenge tax and zoning statutes, public safety regulations and many other laws.
Even worse, Senate Bill 66 would repeal the RFRA “fix” that lawmakers passed last year following a firestorm of national negative publicity over the so-called “license to discriminate” against gay and transgender people. The fix, while imperfect, ensured that RFRA could not be used as a defense to a nondiscrimination claim. By repealing the fix, SB 66 would allow people and businesses to challenge longstanding state and local nondiscrimination laws.
ABOUT SENATE BILL 100
When it was introduced in November 2015, Indiana Senate Bill 100 was presented as a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to Indiana law, which gay and transgender Hoosiers urgently need. Unfortunately, the bill that was introduced provides little meaningful protection from discrimination for transgender people and includes damaging carve-outs and exemptions targeting all LGBT people in Indiana.
Senate Bill 100 would prohibit cities and towns from enforcing existing or adding meaningful local civil rights protections to achieve fair treatment of their residents and as an economic development tool.
Senate Bill 100 provides limited protections for discrimination based on gender identity, and creates very broad religious and services exemptions that would authorize discrimination against gay and transgender people and either erode or eliminate many longstanding protections under Indiana civil rights law for discrimination based on other currently protected characteristics, including race and sex.
For example, this bill could allow a homeless shelter that receives government funding to turn away a single mother or permit a religiously affiliated hospital to deny someone the ability to make medical decisions for a same-sex spouse.
The bill also includes steep financial penalties that make it harder for anyone to file a discrimination claim.
ABOUT SENATE BILL 344
Senate Bill 344 was introduced in January 2016 as an alternative to Senate Bill 100. They share the same authors in the Indiana Senate.
Senate Bill 344 includes many of the same problems outlined above, and it furthermore provides zero protections for the tens of thousands of transgender people in Indiana. It would instead refer the issue of transgender discrimination to a summer study committee, sending a message that discrimination against this population should remain legal.
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