State Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) today introduced Senate Bill 344 which he says is an alternative approach to the effort to balance religious liberty and civil rights protections for gay and lesbian Hoosiers. Holdman previously filed Senate Bill 100, which also seeks to balance civil rights and religious liberty.
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, while also including provisions aimed at protecting Hoosiers’ religious liberty and rights of conscience. The bill would charge a legislative study committee with examining issues related to discrimination based on gender identity.
Other key differences between SB 344 and SB 100 include the following:
- While SB 100 would require local civil rights ordinances to conform to state law, SB 344 would leave existing local ordinances in place. 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. This is more consistent with the current definition of “employer” found in Indiana civil rights law than SB 100’s exemption for marriage-related businesses with three or fewer employees.
- SB 344 does not include the provision in SB 100 that allows for a $1,000 fine for making a frivolous discrimination claim intended to harm the subject of the complaint.
Holdman said SB 344 is not intended to replace SB 100, but to encourage further discussion on the important issues addressed in both bills.
“I’m filing this bill as an alternative approach to the current civil rights discussion playing out in the public and among lawmakers at the Statehouse,” Holdman said. “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.”
Both SB 344 and SB 100 have been assigned to the Senate Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure, which is chaired by Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne). Long said he intends to have the committee hear both bills later this month.
“As I’ve stated before, I believe this is an important discussion for our state to have, but there’s no denying that it is a difficult one,” Long said. “We will have an opportunity for a full public debate, and Senator Holdman’s legislation will help provide a framework for that discussion. It’s very possible that any final product will be amended along the way, but having multiple approaches for lawmakers to consider at the outset is beneficial to the process.”
The text of both SB 344 and SB 100 can be found on the General Assembly’s website at www.in.gov/iga.
Chris Paulsen of Freedom Indiana says the latest version of the anti-LGBT discrimination bill comes up short because it leaves out transgendered Hoosiers to be subject to discrimination.
You can hear her comments by clicking the Leon-Tailored Audio Clip here.