Fort Wayne lawmaker disappointed at civil rights bill’s failure

"Pride Flag" by Quinn Dombrowski, some rights reserved

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): A failed civil rights bill in the Indiana legislature might have been Indiana lawmakers’ last chance to do something on their own terms.

Senate Bill 344 would’ve extended protections for sexual orientation for all except for transgender individuals, but it wasn’t put to a vote in the Senate Tuesday. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says the ultimate decision on the matter might now be out of lawmakers’ hands.

“If we in the legislature don’t forge a solution on this issue, the courts will, and that evidence is out there,” Sen. Long said. “There’s a roadmap showing what the courts are doing in this country today, and they are aggressively stepping in where the legislature fails to tread.”

The bill’s sponsor withdrew it due to harsh criticism from both sides of the political aisle. Democrats and LGBT-rights supporters say it didn’t go far enough by failing to protect transgender individuals, while religious conservatives also opposed the measure, saying it would’ve violated their religious freedoms.

A group of statewide business leaders say a failure to pass the bill will hurt Indiana’s economic future.

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