NewsPublic Affairs / July 1, 2015

On Day One of RFRA, Groups Vow Push for Expanded Civil Rights

On the day Indiana's so-called "religious freedom" law took effect, advocates for the LGBT community said they’re going to organize a voter registration drive as part of their push to obtain civil rights protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Religious Freedom Restoration Act, RFRA, LGBT, civil rights, same-sex marriage2015-07-01T00:00:00-04:00
On Day One of RFRA, Groups Vow Push for Expanded Civil Rights

Stickers such as this one began appearing at businesses around Indianapolis in the wake of debate over Indiana's RFRA legislation.

Associated Press file photo

Just days after a historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Indiana's religious freedom law took effect Wednesday amid an ongoing national debate over gay rights and religious objections.

The "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" -- RFRA -- allows people to use their religious beliefs as a legal defense against certain government regulations.  After a wide-ranging outcry about the legislation, that included business leaders, churches and civil rights groups, GOP lawmakers quickly developed a follow-up bill. While it attempts to clarify that the law cannot be used to to deny services, goods, housing or employment to anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity, many have lingering concerns about the law's effect.

At a rally Wednesday, activist Rick Sutton vowed to return to the Statehouse next session to urge lawmakers to finish the work of unraveling RFRA’s damage by codifying civil rights protections for LGBT Hoosiers.

“We must, for young folks who have a suicide rate that triples what it should be.  We’re here for old folks who want retirement benefits and probate benefits unthreatened.  We’re here for everyone in between," Sutton said. 

Annette Gross is the state coordinator for Indiana’s PFLAG chapters – that’s Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.  She said PFLAG and others will form a coalition that will sign up voters, aiming to elect legislators willing to support the LGBT community:

“We will share our stories and share the humanity of our LGBT loved ones with our fellow Hoosiers," Gross said.

Legislative leaders say they expect a debate on the issue next session.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.




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