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By Chelsea Schneider and Stephanie Wang
House Speaker Brian Bosma said Thursday that passing an expansion of the state’s anti-discrimination laws to cover gay and transgender Hoosiers would be more difficult after Gov. Mike Pence said in his State of the State address this week that any proposal would need to shield religious rights.
“I think (Pence) was more clear than he has been on Tuesday night, so I think he set the ground rules,” said Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican. “I think it does make passage more difficult because I’m not certain there is a solution on the table that meets the requirements that the governor indicated he is looking for.”
The Republican governor broke his silence on the proposed civil rights expansion during the highest-profile speech he gives in a year.
Meanwhile, a Senate committee chaired by Senate President Pro Tem David Long is poised to debate two Republican-led proposals to expand civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers, while making carve-outs for religious objectors. One of the bills would provide protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while the other would extend protections to gay Hoosiers but not transgender people.
Long, a Fort Wayne Republican, has said the bills proposed by Senate Republicans “deal strongly with religious freedom” as well as civil rights.
In his speech, Pence said he would “not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or that interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work.”
“The issues confronting our state are complex,” Pence said, “but I believe if we will hew to our roots, stand firm on the freedoms bequeathed to us by our founders, if we confront the challenges before us with common sense and craft Indiana solutions to improve the lives of Hoosiers, we will move forward together.”
Social conservatives lauded Pence’s words, while Freedom Indiana, an LGBT rights advocacy group, called them a “complete letdown.”
Long said both Senate Republican proposals would get hearings in the coming weeks.SHARE THIS STORY