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Supporters: We Won't Give Up The Fight for Equal Treatment

Indiana's governor sided with religious groups but supporters say they'll keep fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community (Freedom Indiana)
Indiana's governor sided with religious groups but supporters say they'll keep fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community (Freedom Indiana)
January 14, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - Eyes were on Gov. Mike Pence this week as he announced his stance on civil-rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In his State of the State address, Pence urged lawmakers to protect religious freedom and said he wouldn't vote for any legislation that diminishes that. Indiana got attention from all over the globe last year after Republican lawmakers approved a controversial religious freedom law that critics say allowed discrimination.

Senator Karen Tallian of Portage says the world was watching Pence, hoping for him to show support for the LGBT community.

"They were waiting for him to say something and he had the opportunity to lead on this and he gave lip service to the fact Indiana does not tolerate discrimination and we treat everyone equally," says Tallian.

After Tuesday's speech the group Indiana Competes, which represents some big business interests including Cummins, Eli Lilly and the NCAA expressed disappointment with Pence's remarks, saying they wanted leadership and instead got a "shoulder shrug."

Freedom Indiana, the group fighting to get civil protections in place for the LGBT community in Indiana calls Pence's stance "unacceptable" and says Hoosiers need to double down on their efforts to convince lawmakers everyone should be treated equally.

Campaign director Jennifer Wagner says recent legislation proposed in the Hoosier State would offer some protections for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, but transgenders were left out.

"These are vulnerable people and it takes a lot of courage to come out as transgender, to go through that process," Wagner says. "And this legislation effectively tells that entire group of people they don't deserve to be protected under a civil rights law."

Senator Tallian says there is a way to protect everyone, but the governor isn't looking to do that.

"We all know that at some point religious practice can meet head on with interfering with other people's rights," says Tallian. "It's like two trains heading towards each other and we need to figure out what to do about that and he offered nothing."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN