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Republicans Announce Changes To Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Updated April 3, 2015 7:39 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana Republicans announced changes to the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday.

Language added to the bill will specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, lawmakers said.

"What was intended as a message of inclusion of all religious beliefs was interpreted as a message of exclusion, especially for the LGBT community," said House Speaker Brian Bosma. "Nothing could have been further from the truth, but it was clear that the perception had to be addressed.

"We are sorry that misinterpretation hurt so many people," Bosma added later.

"I personally extend that apology to anyone who received that message," he said. "We are here. We are here to make it right. We are here to assure those who feel the RFRA statute would discriminate against them that it will not be used for that purpose."

Civic and business leaders stood behind Bosma and and Senate President Pro Tem David Long for the announcement. They included Pacers President Jim Morris, who said, "For 50 years, Hoosiers, people who live in Indy have worked as hard as humanly possible with the most collegial inclusive mindset to tell the world that we want them to come to Indiana, to Indianapolis, that they're welcome here, that this is a dynamic, upbeat, happy, positive place. The results of that effort have been extraordinary."

"For the first time ever, the words 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' appear in an Indiana statute - or they will after this law is passed - in the context of nondiscrimination," said former Indianapolis Mayor and Eli Lilly exec Bart Peterson.

Gov. Mike Pence did not attend the announcement.

The new language reads, in part:

This chapter does not: 1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or United States military services; 2) establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military Service

A Senate conference committee adjourned at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss the law.



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