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Indiana Lawmakers Nix Anti-Gay Bill

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Feb 26, 2014
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Rep. Eric Turner
Rep. Eric Turner  (Source:AP Photo/AJ Mast)

An Indiana House committee shelved an anti-gay proposal Tuesday that mirrors Arizona’s highly controversial SB 1062, a bill that would allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers by citing religious beliefs, Indy Star reports.

The lawmakers decided to nix the bill due to the outcry from the Arizona’s anti-gay bill. Several high profile politicians, pundits and leaders of companies, like Apple Inc., have urged Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill.

"I didn’t quite understand the firestorm it would create," Indiana Rep. Eric Turner, the proposal’s author, told the House Ways and Means Committee.

When the committee narrowly approved the measure Monday, slipping it into another bill, social media took notice and exploded. Just a few hours after it was passed, House Speaker Brian Bosma said the proposal would be sent back to lawmakers for further debate.

By Tuesday morning the committee decided to remove the measure.

The measure would have allowed schools, colleges, or religious institutions affiliated wit h a church to make employment decisions based on religion, even if the institutions have contracts with the state, according to Indy Star.

Turner, who is also responsible for authoring Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, said he did not want to become national fodder like in the case of Arizona. Instead, he said he wanted to bring up concerns the Indian Attorney General’s office had about workforce training contract between Indiana and Indiana Wesleyan University - the Christian school that is allowed to hire based on religious beliefs.

"What we were trying to do in working with the attorney general’s office is mirror federal law to allow these faith-based institutions to continue these contracts with the state," he said. "I never intended this amendment to be anything more than that."

Those who are against the proposal said it would discriminate against some people.

"It would create a right to discriminate on the basis of religion for any position, even if it has nothing to do with the organization’s religious mission," Robert A. Katz, a professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, told the Indy Star. "This could create a religious test for janitors."

Indiana Democrats lauded the measure’s removal.

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