LGBT protections take center stage at statehouse

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (January 7, 2016) – Civil rights issues are once again causing controversy in Indiana. This time, it’s the “T” in LGBT that has many people at the statehouse talking.

One of the biggest questions going into the 2016 session was what would lawmakers do with LGBT rights, following the religious freedom fallout from 2015.

Republican lawmakers think they’ve found a solution.

One republican lawmaker is proposing protections for Hoosier gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Noticeably absent though are civil rights protections for transgender Hoosiers.

Thursday, Republican State Senator Travis Holdman (R – Markle) authored the bill that leaves the “T” out of LGBT. Holdman said Thursday transgender issues should be studied and vetted before lawmakers add them to the state’s civil rights code.

“I think folks are pretty well settled on the gay issue and the lesbian issue and the marriage issue but I think the biggest concern is getting our arms around the transgender piece and what that means,” he said.

“It’s not a heavy lift to most people of Indiana. They’re ready for sexual orientation and gender identity to be treated the same as anybody else’s condition of birth or their religious conscience,” said State Representative and House Minority Leader, Scott Pelath (D – Michigan City).

The other side of the aisle is not sold on Holdman’s proposal. Freedom Indiana, the organization that spearheaded the anti-religious freedom fight in 2015, was again pushing back during a press conference at the statehouse on Thursday.

“Writing some Hoosiers out of a law is just like writing discrimination into the law,” said Freedom Indiana Director, Chris Paulsen.

“Rather than have a study committee, I’d be happy to speak with any senator, any lawmaker in Indiana who wishes to learn more about transgender people,” said Korvin Bothwell, a transgendered Hoosier who supports statewide LGBT protections.

Also under consideration by republicans this session is removing the requirement of marriage licenses in Indiana. Republican lawmakers are looking to have couples sign a legal contract instead.

Government employees opposed to gay marriage would be off the hook from having to sign off on a marriage license for a gay couple. The bill is an effort to avoid a Kentucky Clerk, Kim Davis-like situation in Indiana.

Governor Mike Pence is expected to announce his position on civil rights issues Tuesday, at the State of the State address.

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