Indiana News

House vote on Religious Freedom bill expected Monday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indiana House is poised to take up the controversial Religious Freedom bill Monday.

It is a divisive and passionate issue, and the divide is growing bigger.

“We as a city reject this wholeheartedly because it makes Indiana look like an unwelcoming place,” said City Councilor Zach Adamson, a democrat. “Its a political move and its not substantive at all.”

Adamson owns a hair salon downtown and says he not only disagrees with the bill as a businessman and lawmaker, but also as a person. He even equates this issue with the civil rights movement.

“We’ve already decided that you don’t get to determine who sits at the lunch counter, you just don’t get to do that because its wrong,” said Adamson

Republican Senator Jim Merritt is on the other side of this controversial debate.

“This has nothing to do about discrimination and there is a negative thought out there that it does,” said Sen. Merritt.

Sen. Merritt didn’t write the bill, or sponsor it, but he did vote for it when it passed the Senate in a 40-10 party line vote.

“If people would just read the legislation, they’ll understand that this has nothing to do with what its purported to be,” said Merritt.

Supporters say the bill will protect businesses, allowing them to deny services that are against their religion.

But opponents say it could welcome discrimination, particularly towards those in the LGBT community.

The are 19 other states that have similar laws. The federal law was signed by President Clinton.

“It has nothing to do about discrimination. It has to do about government intrusion in our lives,” said Sen. Merritt.

“This doesn’t do anything more for them [supporters] except for enshrining it into law; their ability to use their religion as a litmus for denying services,” said  Adamson.

The House session begins Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Sen. Merritt said he expects the bill to pass easily and Governor Pence has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.