Indiana lawmakers are expected to
debate a bill which could allow business owners to refuse to serve
the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.
Senator Scott Schneider is expected to
introduce the measure in the upcoming session that begins Tuesday.
“The focus has been on same-sex
marriage because that's the hot topic right now,” Schneider told
The Indianapolis Star. “It's important to have some
religious freedom and protection.”
Micah Clark, executive director of the
American Family Association (AFA), a group which opposes gay rights
and is lobbying for the bill's passage, said that the bill would
allow small business owners to refuse service to gay couples based on
their religious beliefs.
“The freedom of conscience bill is
really about limiting government's ability to squelch freedom of
religion, conscience or speech,” he said.
One version of the proposal states that
Indiana may not burden a person's right to exercise of religion
unless it can prove that its actions are “essential to further a
compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means
of furthering” that interest. A person would also be able to claim
religion as a defense in court.
A federal appeals court's ruling
striking down Indiana's gay marriage ban took effect in October.