New legislation that was initially intended to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination has evolved into a bill that seemingly accomplishes just the opposite.
Indiana Republicans introduced Senate Bill 100, which serves to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of traits covered by the state’s non-discrimination laws.
But the good news ends there, as the current incarnation of Senate Bill 100 opens the door for new forms of discrimination against LGBT individuals.
Disturbingly, small businesses with four (or fewer) full-time employees are exempt from anti-discrimination laws, meaning they can refuse to provide services or goods to LGBT individuals.
The legislation now exempts religious organizations and groups with religious affiliations, which can still discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Some are calling this new Indiana law an attempted spin off of the so-called “Utah compromise,” which LGBT activists supported only because all other protected classes were treated in the same way. But this is not the case in Indiana, where there is no blanket exemption for religious groups or religious-affiliated groups, which can include schools, adoption agencies and food banks, among others.
What’s more, Indiana’s Senate Bill 100 protects discriminatory religious groups from any sort of consequence. In other states, an organization that discriminates against a protected group can face serious penalties, such as the revocation of tax exempt status and denial of licensing or accreditation.
Many LGBT proponents are vocally opposing this anti-LGBT law, which allows organizations and groups that receive taxpayer dollars to turn away same-sex couples and transgender individuals, amongst others.
In addition, Senate Bill 100 denies communities the right to offer additional LGBT protections.
This law also allows companies to discriminate against transgender individuals when it comes to the usage of bathrooms or locker rooms. And to add insult to injury, the bill places an added burden on transgender individuals, requiring them to “prove” gender identity by providing evidence that they have been living as a particular gender and received medical care as that gender for a minimum of 12 months.