Six Key Problems with Indiana Senate Bill 100

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December 9, 2015
Camilla Taylor

When introduced in November 2015, Indiana Senate Bill 100 was presented as a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to Indiana law, which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Hoosiers urgently need. Unfortunately, the bill that was introduced provides little meaningful protection from discrimination for transgender people and includes damaging carve-outs and exemptions targeting all LGBT people in Indiana. While broadly problematic, there are six key problems with SB100:

1.  The religious exemptions in SB 100 are even broader than the religious refusal law passed earlier this year that marked Indiana as a state of intolerance. As the nation witnessed, enshrining the right to discriminate into the law drives away business and hurts Indiana companies when trying to attract and retain talent. Hoosiers deserve better.

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2.  SB 100 invites businesses and employers to discriminate against LGBT people, by allowing them to create separate dress codes and restroom rules for their LGBT employees. The bill would allow businesses to force transgender people to use a restroom or wear clothing that doesn’t match their gender. The bill is a big step backwards for all LGBT Hoosiers, but particularly transgender Hoosiers.

3.  SB 100 allows some businesses and other service providers the right to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples, setting up separate, lesser protections for gay people against discrimination.

4.  SB 100 expressly authorizes tax-payer-funded social service agencies, such as adoption or foster care agencies, to discriminate.

5.  SB 100 changes current State civil rights laws to favor defendants in all discrimination claims—not just those involving LGBT people. The bill also creates potential punishment for victims of discrimination for filing complaints later deemed “frivolous.”

6.  The bill is a “package deal” – if one part is struck down by a court because it is unconstitutional, all the other parts, including any protection it provides from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, go down with it. Many provisions of this bill are legally questionable and at least some are likely to be struck down.

Hoosiers are expecting an updating of Indiana’s civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity without hurtful carve-outs, overly broad religious exemptions and elimination of local protections. Equal should be equal for everyone. It’s as simple as that. And it’s time.

Further Reading: What’s So Wrong With Indiana’s SB100?