Freedom Indiana statement on Gov. Mike Pence's lack of leadership to protect LGBT people from discrimination
INDIANAPOLIS — Freedom Indiana, the statewide grassroots organization fighting to update existing Indiana laws against discrimination to include gay and transgender people, issued the following statement on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's lack of leadership on the issue during his "State of the State" address this evening. The statement can be attributed to Freedom Indiana campaign manager Chris Paulsen.
"This is a complete letdown. In his speech tonight, after 10 months of allegedly listening to Hoosiers, Governor Pence chose to punt the critical issue of civil rights protections for gay and transgender people to Indiana lawmakers. We are disappointed in his lack of leadership on an update that we know a majority of people in our state support.
"But it also means we have our work cut out for us: We must redouble our efforts so that lawmakers craft a good bill to send to the Governor that makes it clear that gay and transgender people should not be fired, denied housing or turned away from public spaces because of who they are or whom they love.
"We've worked hard before, and we'll do it again. We've shown up before, and we'll do it again. Protecting everyone in our state should not be this difficult, but we will make sure lawmakers and the Governor understand that doing nothing is not an option — and creating another RFRA situation would be even worse."
From the Human Rights Campaign: Indiana Governor Mike Pence punts on LGBT non-discrimination protections in State of the State address:
WASHINGTON — Tonight, the Human Rights Campaign criticized Governor Mike Pence for his failure to clearly call for fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Hoosiers and visitors in his State of the State address. Instead, he chose to follow a non-committal path similar to his lack of leadership on the issue last legislative session.
"To no one's surprise, yet again Governor Mike Pence has failed Indiana and all Hoosiers," said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. "The state is in urgent need of leadership by the Governor to undo the damage from last year's debacle, and Pence is clearly unwilling or incapable of doing the job. While on one hand he says he believes no one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are or who they love, he completely failed to call for fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections. Not only is passing these crucial non-discrimination protections a key to moving the state forward, it's what LGBT Hoosiers and their families deserve. The time to act is now."
Yesterday, HRC called on Pence to use his address as an opportunity to join the 70 percent of Hoosiers who support vitally important LGBT non-discrimination protections.
Last year, Pence inflicted a tremendous amount of damage to the state's reputation and business climate when he signed legislation allowing individuals to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and other minorities. Facing economic damage and mounting public pressure from fair-minded Americans and business leaders across the country, he then signed legislation that limited the damage of the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act ( RFRA ), but fell far short of providing a full solution. The measure failed to explicitly ensure that the new law wouldn't be used to undermine the full scope of Indiana existing non-discrimination laws, and did not add LGBT non-discrimination protections to the state's civil rights laws.
To further compound the problem, with Indiana's legislative session for 2016 just beginning, at least six anti-LGBT bills have already been introduced. Senate Bill 35, introduced by Republican Senator Jim Tomes, would criminalize transgender people for using restrooms or locker rooms of their gender identity. Another proposal filed by Republican Senators Michael Young, Phil Boots, and Jim Banks — Senate Bill 66 — would astoundingly replace the current RFRA with a "super-RFRA." Proposed as a state constitutional amendment, it would strip away the exemption for non-discrimination protections that Pence previously signed into law trying to limit the damage of the state's current RFRA.
Democratic Senator minority leader Timothy Lanane has also introduced legislation — Senate Bill 2 — that would amend the state's existing non-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories. Republican Senator Ron Alting has also introduced similar legislation — Senate Bill 170 — that would update the state's non-discrimination laws to include LGBT people.
In addition to the overwhelming majority of fair-minded Hoosiers, businesses across the state have united to push for fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections, and the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star has repeatedly called for these fundamental protections.
HRC is a founding member of Freedom Indiana — the statewide grassroots organization fighting to update existing Indiana laws against discrimination to include LGBT Hoosiers.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
Freedom for All Americans: Pence Refuses to Support Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT Hoosiers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In his fourth State of the State Address, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence refused to support nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers. It is currently legal under Indiana state law to fire someone from their job, or deny them housing or public services based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, released the following statement regarding Pence's comments:
"We agree that the vast majority of people are good and do not want to harm anyone. Most follow the Golden Rule and treat others the way they want to be treated. Unfortunately, there are still those who fire employees, or deny public services and housing to individuals and their families, simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Indiana needs nondiscrimination protections to ensure everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is protected under the law.
"Last year, Indiana's reputation was badly damaged after Gov. Pence pushed through the so called RFRA law. Businesses were especially impacted by the law which made LGBT people feel unwelcome in Indiana. Now, hundreds of business leaders from across the state united to form Indiana Competes in order to mitigate the damage done by Gov. Pence and secure nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals. There are currently 17 states and over 200 municipalities across the nation who have proven that you can protect LGBT citizens from discrimination without infringing on religious freedom.
"Equality under the law is one of the most important rights we as Americans are afforded. We will continue our work to ensure that Hoosiers from all walks of life are protected from discrimination, and once again show what Hoosier hospitality is all about."
Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign dedicated to ensuring every gay and transgender American is fully protected from discrimination under the law, no matter where they live. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses big and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally.