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
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
“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
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.