Feb. 3, 2016
Sisters and Brothers in Christ –
Many of you have been watching as the Indiana legislature once again took up the questions raised by last spring’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. You may recall that Governor Mike Pence signed a law that within a week was “fixed” due to the negative reaction from people of faith, businesses, convention planners and the general citizenry of the state. The revision made clear that it could not be used for purposes of discrimination.
This winter, the legislature began the process of revising the civil codes of Indiana to include protections for LGBT persons. Several bills were submitted, but only one made it out of committee. That bill, SB 344, in its present form was not acceptable either to civil rights activists or to those who felt it infringed upon the religious freedom of individuals and businesses. Senate leadership have now declared that it does not have the support to be considered in this short legislative session.
We want you to know we have not put this issue aside. Disciples leaders in Indiana, along with ecumenical partners, have been actively involved in communicating the concerns of Christians to the governor and legislative leaders. We will continue to do so in the remainder of this legislative session and the one that begins in 2017.
Strong civil rights protections for the LGBT community are in place in more than 13 Indiana cities and counties which cover 40 percent of the state’s population. That includes protection in Indianapolis, the city we have chosen for our 2017 General Assembly. Consequently, while disappointed that conversation has stopped in the Indiana legislature for the time being, we feel assured that all delegates to the 2017 General Assembly will be hospitably welcomed. Our presence will, in addition, offer opportunity for us to witness to our long standing commitment to civil rights for all people in Indiana and in every state.
In Christ’s service,
Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Richard L. Spleth
Indiana Regional Minister
You can read more here: Indianapolis Star, Feb. 3, 2016, Why Indiana lawmakers killed the gay rights debate for this year