Today, HRC urged the Indiana House of Representatives to vote down a broadly sweeping anti-LGBT bill that will undermine all existing state civil rights laws and damage the economic climate and reputation of the state. HRC also called on Governor Pence to veto the bill if it makes it to his desk. The so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” allows people to use religion as an excuse to challenge or opt out of various laws, including state and local laws that protect minorities and LGBT people from discrimination.
“This bill dangerously allows people to pick and choose which laws they want to follow and which ones they don’t,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “Religious freedom is important - that’s why it’s protected in our Constitution - but this bill is not about the right of people to practice their religion. It’s about undermining basic civil rights laws and subjecting countless Hoosiers to discrimination. All people in Indiana deserve to be treated fairly and equally and should have to play by the same set of rules. We urge the House to vote this bill down and call on Governor Pence to do the right thing and veto this bill if it makes it to his desk.”
The bill has already been passed through the Senate, and after today’s second reading could be voted on in the House this coming Monday.
If signed into law, this bill could empower police officers to refuse to patrol the areas around synagogues or mosques, allow doctors to withhold medically-necessary information from their patients, or expose the LGBT community to a wave of new forms of discrimination.
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and local employers including Alcoa, Eli Lilly & Co., and Cummins have already spoken out against the bill, arguing that it is bad for business. Similar legislation has been opposed in other states by other major companies including Wal-Mart and Apple out of concern that they undermine existing civil rights law and deeply harm the business climate of states in which they are passed.
HRC is a founding member of the Freedom Indiana coalition—a campaign of state and national organizations working to stop this bill before it can inflict damage on Indiana.