The Latest: Chamber head says gay-rights failure hurts state

AP News
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Posted: Feb 02, 2016 5:52 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the decision of Indiana Republican lawmakers to abandon efforts this year to extend anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce president is warning that the state could be hurt by the Legislature's failure to advance a bill extending anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation.

State chamber President Kevin Brinegar says he is frustrated the Indiana Senate wasn't able to move forward on what he called a "critical issue."

The debate over the gay-rights protection bill had split many state business leaders and religious conservatives who are among key Republican Party supporters.

Brinegar says the Legislature's inaction on the issue leaves Indiana at a disadvantage in the recruitment, attraction and retention of talented people following last spring's national backlash over the state's religious objection law.

He says state leaders must work together to reach a solution.

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5:25 p.m.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's office says he "respects" the decision of a Republican lawmaker to withdraw a bill that called for extending anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Pence's office issued a two-sentence statement Tuesday saying he appreciated the civility in which the issue was debated and that he looked forward to working with legislators on issues such as roads, schools and health care.

The statement didn't expand on Pence's comments during his State of the State speech last month during which he said he wouldn't support broader civil rights protections if he believed that step would diminish religious freedoms.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg says Pence provided no leadership on the issue and that Indiana's economy and reputation will continue to suffer.

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5 p.m.

The Democratic candidate for Indiana governor says Republican Gov. Mike Pence failed to provide any leadership as the state Legislature considered extending anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Democrat John Gregg says Indiana's economy and reputation will continue to suffer until state civil rights laws include such protections.

Gregg's comments come after a bill calling for civil rights protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual people was withdrawn Tuesday in the Republican-dominated state Senate.

The governor's office hasn't yet commented on the Senate action, but Pence said in his State of the State speech last month that he wouldn't support broader civil rights protections if he believed that step would diminish religious freedoms.

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4:45 p.m.

A prominent Indiana religious conservative says he believes state senators took the right step in withdrawing a proposal that would have extended anti-discrimination protections to gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

American Family Association of Indiana director Micah Clark says the bill that the Senate was considering was a "fatally flawed concept" that threatened religious freedom.

Clark and other religious conservatives argued the proposal would have required people to provide services for same-sex marriages even if they had religious objections. Gay-rights supports criticized the bill for not including protections for transgender people.

Clark says he's pleased the Senate won't advance the bill, adding that proposals that would punish people based on their beliefs should be rejected.

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4:25 p.m.

The gay-rights group Freedom Indiana says it is disappointed that state Senate bill to extend anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people has been withdrawn.

The group criticized the Republican-dominated Senate's decision, saying lawmakers did nothing to protect LGBT people in the state.

Bill sponsor GOP Sen. Travis Holdman withdrew the measure from consideration Tuesday and said it didn't have enough support to pass the Senate.

Gay-rights supporters had criticized the bill because it didn't include protections for transgender people.

Freedom Indiana says legislative debate should continue not be shut down without a vote on the Senate floor.

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4:15 p.m.

The Indiana Senate leader says efforts to add protections for sexual orientation to state anti-discrimination laws are effectively dead this legislative session.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long says he and others had tried to find a fair solution on the issue before its sponsor decided Tuesday to withdraw his proposal.

Long says GOP senators had tried to balance civil rights and religious liberty protections but "took a beating from all sides."

Long says out-of-state groups hampered the chances of reaching agreement with "well-organized extreme messaging" from groups on both sides.

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3:25 p.m.

The sponsor of the Indiana Senate's bill to extend anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people is pulling the proposal from consideration, dealing a serious blow to efforts to pass legislation this year.

Republican Sen. Travis Holdman said Tuesday he was disappointed but realized there wasn't enough support for the bill to win approval.

The measure that cleared a Senate committee last week was criticized by Democrats and LGBT rights activists for not including transgender people. It also faced opposition from religious conservatives who believed it still required services for same-sex marriages even if they had religious objections.

Indiana faced a national backlash last year after the Legislature passed a religious objections law that critics said allowed discrimination against gay and lesbian people. The law was later revised.

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4 a.m.

The Indiana Senate is expected to debate proposed changes to a bill that would extend civil rights protections for lesbians, gays and bisexuals — but not transgender people.

State senators face a Wednesday deadline for approving bills and sending them to the House. The Senate traditionally debates changes to bills the day before they take a final vote.

The current measure has spurred criticism from Democrats and LGBT rights activists who say it does not go far enough because it leaves out transgender people. Religious conservatives who oppose the bill argue it would force people to provide services for same-sex marriages even if they have religious objections.

The measure would also allow cities such as Indianapolis to keep their broader LGBT civil rights. New ordinances wouldn't be allowed.