News (USA)

Bill aims to replace Indiana’s religious objections law

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers will consider a proposal that would throw out the state’s contentious religious objections law and replace it with a statute its sponsor says aims to protect six fundamental rights.

It is unclear how much support the bill might garner as legislators face a debate over a push to extend LGBT civil rights protections following last spring’s uproar over whether the religious objections law would permit discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Under the new bill, state government and courts would give “the greatest deference” on six issues: the state constitutional rights to worship, religion, exercise of religion, speech, assembly and bear arms.

Bill sponsor Sen. Michael Young, a Republican from Indianapolis, said the religious objections law became too convoluted and should be replaced by recognizing the importance of multiple rights.

“We want those protected at the highest standard,” Young said. “It protects our freedom.”

Advocates of civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people maintain that Young’s bill is aimed at derailing their push.

Peter Hanscom, of the business-backed pro-LGBT group Indiana Competes, said the proposal isn’t a solution for concerns that the Legislature was legally permitting discrimination.

“Let’s not address this by creating, potentially, another problem,” Hanscom told WISH-TV.

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