The full Indiana Senate will debate on Senate Bill 344 sometime in the near future, most likely next week.
The bill that is meant to offer limited civil rights protections to gays and lesbians passed out of the Rules and Legislative Procedure committee on a 7-5 vote. All four Democrat senators voted against the measure as well as Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn).
The bill excludes any type of protections for transgender people. SB 100, which did include transgender persons, was not called for a vote and essentially died in the committee. Thursday is the last day for committees to advance proposed bills to the chamber floor and the Rules and Legislative Procedure committee is not scheduled to meet again.
The vote came after a four and a half hours of testimony from Hoosiers and from folks from out of state. The testimony was civil but passionate from those both for and against civil protections for the LGBT community.
Ultimately, Sens. Karen Tallian (D-Portage), Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) and Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) expressed disappointment in the exclusion of transgenders as the basis, among others, for their nay vote. Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) stated that he could never vote for SB 100 but believed SB 244 was a “good start,” eluding to the fact that the inclusion of transgender people would never be acceptable to him.
SB 344 was amended to include religious-based crisis pregnancy/adoption centers and other shelters among those entities that would be excluded from adhering to the civil rights law. Such exemptions could make it more difficult for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children through those agencies or to receive homeless assistance.
The bill will be presented to the full Senate for second reading where amendments will be offered — an amendment to add transgenders back into the bill could be offered at that time. The bill must be passed on third reading by Wednesday in order to advance to the House for consideration.