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Senate GOP Proposes Alternative Anti-Discrimination Bill

Senate Republicans are proposing what they call an “alternative” to their original legislation protecting the LGBT community from discrimination. The new bill leaves out transgender Hoosiers as a protected class.

GOP Senator Travis Holdman’s first proposed LGBT bill added sexual orientation and gender identity to Indiana’s civil rights statute, while ensuring certain religious freedom protections.  Neither side of the debate was happy about the measure.

Holdman’s new effort keeps sexual orientation as a protected class but he says the gender identity portion is moved to a summer study committee.

“I think to give the transgender community the center stage on this issue in a summer study committee basically responds to their concern that we don’t understand their issue,” Holdman says.

But Korvin Bothwell, an Indianapolis small business owner who’ identifies as transgender, says a study committee isn’t necessary.  He says he’d be happy to meet with any lawmaker to discuss the issue.

“Meet people as human beings rather than an ‘us versus them’ situation,” Bothwell says.

Democratic Senator Tim Lanane says even Holdman’s original bill was flawed because it still allowed some discrimination.

“And now they’ve decided that quite a lot of discrimination is okay in the state of Indiana,” Lanane says.

On the other side of the debate, American Family Association of Indiana executive director Micah Clark says even a bill leaving out gender identity picks and chooses how Hoosiers can exercise their religious freedom.

“We oppose elevating a sexual behavior to the same level as inborn traits like race and skin color," Clark says. "They’re not the same.”

Holdman says he expects both his bills – the original and his new alternative – will receive hearings later this month.

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