Indiana unveils changes to religious freedom bill; LGBT rights groups say it’s not enough

Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015 to oppose the religious freedom legislation.

Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015 to oppose the religious freedom legislation. Rick Callahan, AP

Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015 to oppose the religious freedom legislation.Rick Callahan, AP

Some of the hundreds of people who gathered outside the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, March 28, 2015 to oppose the religious freedom legislation.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers on Thursday announced changes they plan to make to the state’s new religious freedom law aimed at quelling widespread criticism from businesses and others who have called the proposal anti-gay, but LGBT rights groups said the fix doesn’t go far enough.

The revisions, which still require approval from the full Legislature and Republican Gov. Mike Pence, come as lawmakers in Arkansas scramble to revise that state’s own religious-objections legislation amid cries that it could permit discrimination.

The Indiana amendment prohibits service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations.

It also bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or U.S. military service.

The measure exempts churches and affiliated schools, along with nonprofit religious organizations.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said the agreement sends a “very strong statement” that the state will not tolerate discrimination.

The law “cannot be used to discriminate against anyone,” he said.

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Bosma and Long said they have the votes needed to pass the amendment and send it to Pence. A spokeswoman for the governor said he would not comment until the revised bill arrives on his desk.

Business leaders, many of whom had opposed the law or pledged to cancel travel to the state because of it, called the amendment a good first step. Indiana still does not include the LGBT community as a protected class in its civil-rights law, but Bosma said lawmakers met with representatives of the LGBT community and said they believed the new language addressed many of their concerns.

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