BTL Staff and AP
INDIANAPOLIS – A Republican state senator who previously proposed granting Indiana civil rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has unveiled a new bill that would leave transgender rights out of the equation.
Sen. Travis Holdman of Markle released the new proposal Thursday amid divisions in the GOP-controlled Senate over his previous bill.
Holdman’s new bill would have lawmakers study the transgender rights issue after this year’s legislative session. It also adds more robust protections for those with “sincerely held” religious opposition to gay people.
Unlike his prior proposal, the new bill would allow cities that previously passed LGBT rights protections to keep those ordinances on the books.
Senate leaders say both this bill as well as Holdman’s previous measure will be considered by a Senate committee.
Republican State Senator Travis Holdman (R – Markle) authored the bill that leaves the “T” out of LGBT. Holdman said Thursday transgender issues should be studied and vetted before lawmakers add them to the state’s civil rights code.
“I think folks are pretty well settled on the gay issue and the lesbian issue and the marriage issue but I think the biggest concern is getting our arms around the transgender piece and what that means,” he said.
“It’s not a heavy lift to most people of Indiana. They’re ready for sexual orientation and gender identity to be treated the same as anybody else’s condition of birth or their religious conscience,” said State Representative and House Minority Leader, Scott Pelath (D – Michigan City).
On Thursday at a press conference, Freedom Indiana’s Chris Paulsen said, “Writing some Hoosiers out of a law is just like writing discrimination into the law.” Freedom Indiana, is the organization that spearheaded the anti-religious freedom fight in 2015.
Republicans are also considering removing the requirement of marriage licenses in Indiana. Republican lawmakers are looking to have couples sign a legal contract instead, saying they are looking to avoid a situation where a clerk refuses to issue a license to same-sex couples as Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis did last summer.
Governor Mike Pence is expected to announce his position on civil rights issues at the State of the State address on Tuesday.