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State Senator To File Religious Freedom Bill

Sen. Scott Schneider, an Indianapolis Republican who wants Indiana to withdraw from the Common Core, speaks at a rally at the statehouse Wednesday.

State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, plans to file a Religious Freedom Restoration Act during the upcoming legislative session.

In a statement, Schneider says he was inspired by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

The court ruled ‘closely-held’ private corporations can refuse to cover contraceptives for religious reasons.

Schneider wants similar protections for companies at the state level.

For example, the bill would protect a bakery that refuses to make a cake for a same-sex wedding for religious reasons.

Indiana Family Institute Public Policy Director Ryan McCann says the bill supports equality.

“Our view is every individual, every business owner should have First Amendment rights and that includes what happens in their business and they shouldn’t be compelled by their government to give speech or be compelled to participate in associations that they deem inappropriate,” McCann says.

But, President of Indiana Equality Action Chris Paulsen says that’s just spin.

She says the intention of the bill is to discriminate against certain groups.

“If you read the verbage of the proposed bill, the couple versions I’ve seen, and if you look at how these types of bills have been used in other states, it’s purely discrimination against the LGBT community,” Paulsen says.

Religious rights advocates have hinted at supporting a measure like Schneider’s since same-sex marriage was legalized earlier this year. Legal experts say, however, that, when it comes to the law, businesses can already refuse services to same-sex couples because there isn’t a federal or state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Schneider says he’s still working to finalize the bill’s language.

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