Indiana lawmakers face deadline to keep gay rights bill alive

Indiana state capitol in Indianapolis.

Indiana state capitol in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers have days to decide whether to keep alive a bill this legislative session that would extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians, but not transgender people.

Republican Senate Leader David Long had promised to address LGBT rights following the passage last March of a religious objections law that was strongly criticized, including by the business community, as an invitation for people to discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Facing a Wednesday deadline, the full Senate is poised to vote on a bill that would protect lesbians, gays and bisexuals from being fired, denied service or evicted due to their sexual orientation.

But the measure, which has exemptions for clergy, small businesses and religious organizations, has strong opposition from people on both sides of the issue.

Democrats and gay rights supporters, including business leaders, say the bill doesn’t go far enough because it wouldn’t cover transgender people, too. Religious conservatives, though, say it could force Christians to work with gay people even if they are religiously opposed to doing so.

“The far right, the far left are so passionate on this. There’s no give with those groups,” said Long, who plans to call the bill for a vote even though it could face defeat. “But those are extreme positions, and you have to remember that.”

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