The week before Thanksgiving, Indiana Senate Republicans introduced a bill aimed at expanding LGBT protections in the state. Or so they say.
Senate Bill 100 does, in fact, add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination laws. However, the bill has many exemptions that remove much of its teeth.
Religious organizations—including charities, schools, and adoption agencies—are still allowed to refuse service to LGBT people. All businesses with fewer than four employees can also refuse on religious grounds to provide services related to marriages to same-sex couples. In addition, public and private organizations are able to determine their own restroom policies, specifically as they pertain to transgender people. And localities within the state cannot pass any further protections.
When you actually read it, this bill doesn’t seem much different than RFRA.
Proponents of this law and RFRA before it claim this is about preserving religious freedom, not antigay discrimination. To put that claim to the test, let’s compare it to protections against other forms of discrimination.
I’ve stated before how the Civil Rights Act doesn’t mention LGBT protections, but it does contain an exemption for religious organizations. However, it only stipulates that religious organizations have a right to only hire a follower of their religion if the nature of the job demands it. They still cannot discriminate based on race, nationality, or gender, in hiring practices or providing services.
If sexual orientation or gender identity are truly equally protected, they would be subject to those same terms, without exemption. Anything less is de facto legalized discrimination.