Indiana Senate Bill 344 passed out of committee last night with some amendments which broadened the exclusions that allow discrimination against LGBT people, who could be discriminated against by businesses with a religious intent – including hospitals run by religious organizations.
The bill was debated and discussed for many hours in the Senate chamber, and then opened to public comment for several hours. It should be noted that over 90 minutes of public testimony took place before an LGBT person was allowed to testify, and not all LGBT people who signed up to testify were allowed to before public comment was closed early at 8:30 p.m.. Early testimony was exclusively from businesses and religious leaders.
Rhiannon Carlson, a veteran and transgender woman who served in Iraq, was able to testify about her service and the needs of transgender veterans for civil rights protections.
Korvin Bothwell, a transgender man and small business owner in Indianapolis, also gave testimony about the importance of civil rights protections to trans people.
Krisztina Inskeep, the mother of a transgender son, spoke about the effect of discrimination on her child and the need for civil rights protections for all transgender people.
SB344 passed out of committee on 7-5 vote, (No:Lanane, Arnold, Breaux, Tallian, Kruse YEA: Holdman, Charbonneau, Eckerty, Steele, Merritt, Hershman, Long) and will need to be heard in the full Senate by next week on Wednesday if it is going to advance further in the legislature.
The Indy Star has a timeline of events of the evening that explains many of the amendments and their impact.
Lambda Legal: Calls for “All Hands on Deck” as Indiana SB 344 Advances
Last year’s RFRA debate which allowed discrimination against LGBT people on religious grounds cost the state at least $60 million dollars in lost tourism and lost investment from businesses according to analysis by Visit Indy. A document prepared by tourism group shows that the 12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said the controversial law played a role in their decisions to locate their events elsewhere.