“They are hoping to derail the struggle for non-discrimination protections by disseminating really offensive myths,” said Camilla Taylor, of Lambda Legal, a national LGBT advocacy group.
Advance America founder Eric Miller has said that it’s not “fearmongering to tell the people the truth.”
The split between social conservatives and business — key Republican constituencies — threatens Pence’s re-election chances in 2016, as he runs the risk of alienating one or both.
“We’ve been very vocal that we’re going to push for a statewide non-discrimination statue. That’s no secret,” said Jon Mills, a spokesman for heavy equipment manufacturer Cummins, a business in the LGBT rights coalition that includes Angie’s List, Eli Lilly and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is headquartered in Indianapolis.
Gay rights issues were one topic of discussion during recent talks the governor had with state business leaders, Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said without offering specifics.
House Speaker Brian Bosma said GOP lawmakers and the Pence administration have talked about LGBT rights, but he does not see it as a priority, and Senate President David Long said he expects his caucus will also “have our own contributions to this discussion.”
But minority Democrats are nonetheless trying to turn up the heat on GOP lawmakers, sponsoring legislation that would add the phrases “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Indiana’s existing civil rights act, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane said.
Helmke warned of what might happen in the coming session: “Unless it gets worked out some way behind the scenes, it could create trouble in the halls of the Legislature.”
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