Indiana Republican lawmakers say they have agreed on language to specify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-16) says the issue has presented the “toughest legislative challenge” he has faced. Pacers Sports and Entertainment Vice Chairman Jim Morris says the language represents the “strongest possible commitment” to fight discrimination.
Long believes the ongoing debate will lead to a “robust discussion” next year concerning making the LGBT community a protected class.
Hulman & Co. Senior Vice President and former Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton says the clarification “will show us in our true light.”
Leadership from companies and organizations including Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY), Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Columbus-based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) were among those at this morning’s event.
Lilly Senior Vice President Bart Peterson says the new language marks the first time sexual orientation and gender identity will appear in Indiana statute regarding discrimination.
A conference committee is meeting this morning to discuss the amendment.
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar responded to the proposed clarification to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):
“Our state has suffered tremendously the past week. It was absolutely essential to clarify and affirm that Indiana’s RFRA law does not permit discrimination against any person or group of people. The legislative amendment spells out that Indiana will not permit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s what businesses and individuals from around the state, country and world needed to hear.
“We believe this effort begins to help re-establish Indiana’s identity as a welcoming place and will go a long way toward reversing the tide of negative sentiments that has threatened our state’s economy.
“We encourage the General Assembly to pass this legislation in a bipartisan fashion today to show the nation that Indiana is united in sending the message that our state is a hospitable one which does not discriminate.”
Source: Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Statehouse