A gay rights bill died in Indiana’s Senate on Tuesday, but the sponsor of the bill has pledged to revisit the civil rights legislation for next year. Republican state Sen. Travis Holdman said he was disappointed but realized there was not enough support for the bill to win approval, the Associated Press reported.
The proposal would have added sexual orientation as a protected class, with exemptions for religious organizations, faith-based groups, wedding services providers and small businesses, yet omitted protections for transgender people. Instead, it would have assigned a study committee to examine transgender discrimination and possible legislation to address that issue, IndyStar reported.
Republican David Long, the Senate president pro tem, said out-of-state groups from both sides with “well-organized extreme messaging” hindered the likelihood of an agreement being reached. The gay rights proposal did not have enough support from Republican lawmakers to pass the full Senate, Long said, and there was “no need” to have a debate or vote on the issue. Apprehension from House Speaker Brian Bosma and Gov. Mike Pence, both Republicans, also factored into the decision to kill the bill, according to Long.
The measure, which cleared a Senate committee last week, was criticized by Democrats and LGBT rights activists for not including transgender protections, and also faced fierce opposition from religious conservative groups claiming it stamped out religious liberties.
“It is extremely disappointing that lawmakers did not allow a vote to occur on the Senate floor today regarding an update to our civil rights law, an update that could have finally put to rest the question of equal protection for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people in Indiana,” Jane Henegar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said in a statement. “Lawmakers left this crucial issue unanswered despite our tireless efforts to help fix the deeply flawed legislation, and despite strong support across the state from faith leaders, business leaders and public officials interested in moving Indiana forward.”