GOP promises civil rights changes

Indiana Statehouse
Indiana Statehouse (WISH Photo/ Marcie Mangan)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The debate over changes in the Indiana Civil Rights Act officially begins Tuesday. That’s Organization Day in the General Assembly and GOP leaders promised a civil rights bill on Monday.

State Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle) will author the bill that is meant to put the gay rights battle in Indiana to rest.

We still don’t know what it will say.

“It’s not just four words and a comma,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long. “Anyone who says that is shortchanging, I think, the discussion here.”

That’s the explanation Long gave to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon referring to the change sought by gay rights activists.

They want “sexual orientation, gender identity” added to the Civil Rights Act.

“My well intended advice would be to my friends across the aisle, get it over with,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, “get it over with.”

Democrats have already filed a bill adding the four words and a comma.

“This is a train that’s left the station,” said Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis,) “and to keep looking back when a majority of us in the state are ready to move forward does not put Indiana in a good position.”

But the GOP is in no rush.

“Your elected officials should not be bullied, badgered or blackmailed into a decision that they don’t agree with,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma.

Civil rights protections are a priority for the Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s very important that both the House and Senate tackle this,” said Chamber spokesman Tom Schuman, “and we found out last Spring the state needs to address this and we need to address it this year.”

Crowds of people from both sides of the issue are expected at the Statehouse Tuesday.

It’s why House Speaker Brian Bosma said this “may be the toughest issue of any of our careers.”

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