LGBT protections not on priority list for Indiana House Republicans

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 7, 2016)– Thursday, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma unveiled the legislative agenda for House Republicans in 2016. It comes as lawmakers are facing pressure to add protections to the state constitution for LGBT Hoosiers, in the wake of the religious freedom controversy last session.

It appears another controversy is brewing.

Media crowded inside Bosma’s office on Thursday morning.

The speaker said Republicans in the House will push for infrastructure improvements to roads and bridges, figure out where ISTEP went wrong, develop a scholarship to attract those wanting to teach in Indiana schools, and try to tighten laws to control drugs being trafficked through the state.

But missing from the presentation was an issue that’s been fodder for political pundits since last session – protections for LGBT Hoosiers.

“I just don’t think it was a priority for legislative leaders,” said Bosma, “I think there was some discussion about it. We have life or death situations on the board behind me right now.”

Senate Republicans introduced Senate Bill 100 in November, with protections for sexual orientation and gender identity but with religious exceptions.

Thursday, Senator Travis Holdman filed a new bill, Senate Bill 334, which removes protections for transgender Hoosiers, effectively taking the “T” out of LGBT.

Holdman said he heard concerns from other lawmakers and constituents and believes the transgender protections should be studied at a summer committee.

“Freedom Indiana cannot and will not support that. We are for full protections for all LGBT people,” said Chris Paulsen, of Freedom Indiana, “Transgender Hoosiers are everyday Hoosiers. And we don’t study people. Study committees are for roads, bridges, things like that, and we don’t study people.”

Bosma said the House will wait for the Senate to take action on any LGBT constitutional protection bills.

“Do I have a strong position? I don’t. I’m looking for a solution like everyone else is. I haven’t seen one yet,” he said.

Though republicans have their list of priorities, democrats said the issue they left off is likely the one that will get the most attention.

“Four words and a comma is what will make this problem go away. Everything short of that is what makes it come back year after year after year. And it makes the battles continue,” said Rep. Scott Pelath, House Minority Leader.

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