Thursday, April 2, 2015

Indiana and Arkansas Consider LGBT in 'Religious Freedom' Bills

Indiana quickly responded to the heavy and incessant criticism of its "religious freedom" bill that was passed and signed into law recently. Although they claimed the intention of the bill was to be more inclusive of diverse religion, many saw it as a greater weapon for religious people to object to associating and doing business with LGBT people--considering the timing of the bill.

Gov. Pence of Indiana is working to push amendments to the law that would:

1. "Prohibit service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations."

2. Prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among the other traditional groups (sex, religion, race, etc).

3. Exempt religions, religious schools, and religious non-profits from the discrimination ban.

These additions closely mirror the SB296 bill in Utah where religious leaders and equal rights groups worked together for a compromising bill. But critics are still wanting to repeal the Indiana bill altogether for the state to begin healing from the backlash.

Arkansas has little time to make changes, but is reacting to sharp criticisms from its biggest corporate resident: Wal-Mart. There are no statements protecting LGBT in any current law, and the 'religious freedom' bill soon to pass has none either. Adding the language as Indiana plans is something Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson is considering.

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