Indiana lawmaker looks to spark new debate on extending LGBT rights, protections

Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney address a crowd during the rally protesting the state's religious freedom bill, Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney address a crowd during the rally protesting the state's religious freedom bill, Saturday, March 28, 2015. Doug McSchooler, AP

Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney address a crowd during the rally protesting the state's religious freedom bill, Saturday, March 28, 2015. Doug McSchooler, AP

Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney address a crowd during the rally protesting the state’s religious freedom bill, Saturday, March 28, 2015.

INDIANAPOLIS — A Democratic lawmaker said Monday he wanted to force an Indiana House debate over whether to extend protections for LGBT individuals under the state’s nondiscrimination laws less than two weeks after the backlash over the religious objections law.

The proposal from Democratic Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis calls for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination sections of numerous state laws, including the Indiana civil rights law covering education, employment, public accommodations and housing.

“I think the state needs to stop suffering about this. The discussion about the religious freedom law has not ended, either on a local or a state or even a national basis,” DeLaney told The Associated Press. “… I think it is time to get this behind us.”

Republican Gov. Mike Pence on April 2 signed a bill from the GOP-dominated Legislature adding language to the religious objections law stating that service providers couldn’t use the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide goods, services, facilities or accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors.

That marked the first Indiana law to explicitly mention sexual orientation and gender identity in nondiscrimination provisions. Indiana, however, remains among 29 states that don’t include protections for gays and lesbians in their nondiscrimination laws, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and other GOP legislative leaders have said extending anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation could be debated next year, but don’t believe there’s enough time to tackle such a policy change before this year’s General Assembly session ends no later than April 29.

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