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House passes Religious Freedom bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana House of Representatives voted in favor of a controversial religious freedom bill Monday.

It’s a bill that opponents believe will lead to discrimination, but it’s also a bill that is supported by the governor and one that is now certain to become law.

That didn’t stop opponents from battling to the end.

Freedom Indiana, the organization that led the fight for gay marriage in this state, delivered thousands of letters to the office of House Speaker Brian Bosma in a final protest to the bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“We don’t want this bill,” said Katie Blair of Freedom Indiana. “It’s not necessary. It’s discriminatory and it makes our state look bad.”

And when the bill was called down for debate most of the discussion came from opponents who see it as a consolation prize for conservative organizations who lost the gay marriage fight.

Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) said she heard from clergymen who are opposed.

“They see it as state sanctioned discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians,”she said.

“This is a made up issue,” said Minority Leader Scott Pelath. “It’s an issue made up for the purpose of being able to go in front of a few Indiana citizens and thump your chests that you stood up for certain social causes.”

Supporters insist that the bill would merely guide judges when the rights of two or more people come into conflict.

“Nobody in this General Assembly is advocating a bill that would allow people to discriminate,” said Majority Leader Jud McMillin. “Everybody wants the opportunity for people to practice the rights that they’re supposed to have in this country. This bill does that.”

In the end the vote was lopsided 63 in favor and 31 opposed.

The state Senate must still approve a change in the religious freedom bill.

That could happen as soon as tomorrow.

This battle is over.