The Indianapolis Star reported Senate Bill 101 passed in the Republican-controlled chamber by a 63-31 vote margin. The newspaper noted 26 Democrats and five Republicans voted against the controversial measure that would prohibit “a government entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”
The Indiana Senate last month approved a bill similar to SB 101 that is based on the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a federal law that took effect in 1993.
Gov. Mike Pence has said he would sign SB 101 into law.
LGBT advocates and other critics of the measure say it goes far beyond the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act because it does not contain what one source described to the Washington Blade as a “clear standard of what constitutes a religious belief.”
“We’re extremely disappointed that 63 members of the Indiana House suddenly believe we need a new law to protect religious freedom that’s been enshrined in our Constitution for centuries,” said Freedom Indiana, a group that opposes SB 101, in a statement. “We all know Senate Bill 101 is about creating a license for some Hoosiers to discriminate against others in the name of faith, and we all understand that the law’s unintended consequences could harm LGBT Hoosiers, undercut our economic growth and put our children at risk.”
Lambda Legal and the National LGBTQ Task Force also urged Pence to veto the measure.
“Lawmakers in Indiana have chosen to ignore an unprecedented chorus of voices speaking out in opposition to this draconian bill,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, in a statement. “The truth is, this new law will undoubtedly damage Indiana’s reputation as a welcoming place. Instead, the state will now be viewed as completely out-of-step and a place where it isn’t good to live and do business.”
SB 101 is among the dozens of Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and other anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced in state legislatures in recent months.
The Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act that would have barred the state from requiring someone to take part in a marriage ceremony that conflicts with their religious beliefs is among the eight anti-LGBT proposals that were introduced during the 2015 legislative session.
A Mississippi law that critics contend allows business owners to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs took effect in July 2014. Then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer earlier that year vetoed a similar measure in her state.
The Idaho House of Representatives on Friday approved a non-binding resolution that urges Congress to impeach federal judges who rule in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples. The Michigan House of Representatives earlier this month approved three bills that would allow publicly-funded adoption agencies to reject prospective foster parents based on their moral or religious grounds.
A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee in January killed a so-called “conscience clause” bill that would have allowed state licensed or accredited business owners to deny service to someone based on their religious beliefs.
Transgender rights advocates in recent weeks have begun posting “we just need to pee” selfies online response to bills that seek to force people to use public restrooms based on their biological gender.