Indiana Bill Regarding Civil Rights Protections and Religious Freedom (SB 344)
This law was last updated on Jul 25, 2016
SB 344 would make sexual orientation, active-duty military status and veteran status protected classes under Indiana civil rights law. If passed, these groups would be protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Current Indiana civil rights law protects citizens from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin and ancestry.
While the bill prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, it does not protect against gender identity discrimination. Instead, the bill would call for a legislative study committee to discuss gender-identity issues during the summer and fall. The bill would also provide a broad license to discriminate based on the religious beliefs of a person or entity.
The bill defines “sexual orientation” to mean actual or perceived bisexuality, heterosexuality, or homosexuality.
The bill would prohibit the state from taking any discriminatory action against any individual clergy or religious leader on the basis that the individual declines or will decline to perform, solemnize, or facilitate any marriage based upon the individual’s sincerely held religious belief.
The bill would prohibit the state from taking any discriminatory action against a religious or religious affiliated organization, including those providing social services, wholly or partially on the basis that the organization declines or will decline to solemnize any marriage or to provide accommodations or other facilities, goods or other property, privileges, or services for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration, or recognition of any marriage, based upon a sincerely held religious belief.
The bill would prohibit the state from taking any discriminatory action against a religious or religious affiliated organization that provides social services or charitable services, if the organization acts or intends to act upon a sincerely held religious belief.
If passed, a person would be exempt from the provisions related to sexual orientation discrimination for the following:
- An act or omission related to providing accommodations or other facilities, goods or other property, privileges, or services for any solemnization, rehearsal, reception, celebration, or social event for a marriage ceremony, renewal of marriage vows, or marriage anniversary; and
- An act or omission related to providing marriage counseling, courses, retreats, and other similar activities.
A person providing adoption services or crisis pregnancy services, organized with the primary purpose to encourage the carrying of pregnancies to full term, would also be exempt.
The bill would replace the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring courts to use the material burden analysis when reviewing claims involving the following constitutional rights:
- The right to worship;
- The right to free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions and the right of conscience;
- The right to freedom of religion;
- The right to freedom of thought, speech, writing, and printing; and
- The right to assemble.
Similar to SB 100, which included gender identity as a protected class.