Indiana House approves bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gays

Tue. March 24, 2015 10:34 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Indianapolis, IN - The Indiana House on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill opponents say would allow business owners to refuse to serve the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.

All but five Republicans voted for the measure, which cleared the chamber with a 63-31 vote.

The bill seeks to prohibit any state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. A "person" is defined as an individual, religious institution, business or association.

House Majority Leader Jud McMillin, a Republican from Brookville, denied the bill would allow businesses to discriminate.

"No one in the General Assembly is advocating a bill that would allow people to discriminate," he told the AP. "Everybody wants the opportunity for people to practice the rights they're supposed to have in this country."

Last month, the Senate approved a slightly different version of the bill and Republican Governor Mike Pence has pledged his signature.

Minority Leader Scott Pelath, a Democrat from Michigan City, told The Indianapolis Star that the bill "basically says to a group of people you're second rate, you don't matter, and if you walk into my store, I don't have to serve you."

Gay and lesbian couples started marrying in Indiana in October following a federal judge's ruling striking down Indiana's ban on gay marriage. Last year, the Legislature failed to advance a proposed constitutional amendment which sought to define marriage as a heterosexual union.

Roughly twelve other states are considering similar measures.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine