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LGB civil rights bill dies without a vote

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The civil rights debate in the Indiana General Assembly is over for 2016.

The only remaining civil rights bill — SB 344, the so-called LGB no T bill — died in the state Senate Tuesday without a vote.

The bottom line is that there wasn’t enough support from Senate Republicans, who are in a super majority, to pass a bill that includes civil rights protections for transgender men and women.

And no Democrat would vote for a bill that didn’t include those transgender protections along with protections for gays and lesbians.

And so the author of the bill, Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle,) refused to permit amendments when his name was called. It’s a move that effectively kills the bill for this session.

“I believe we have let down a number of friends,” said Holdman, “both our LGBT friends and our far right friends.”

Senate leaders say the issue will be back next year.

“My way or the highway doesn’t work in the legislative process,” said GOP leader David Long. “One way or no way means nothing happens and, as a result, nothing is happening today.”

Democratic leader Tim Lanane said the bill was killed by unfounded fear fueled by ignorance and misunderstanding. Lanane also accused the governor of a failure to lead on civil rights.

Mike Pence questioned whether a law was necessary in his State of the State address.

“Lawmakers made it official today that here in Indiana it will remain legal to fire someone from their job for being gay or transgender,” said Peter Hanscom, spokesman for Indiana Competes, a coalition of businesses in support of a new civil rights law.

It’s now a campaign issue.

Freedom Indiana, the group fighting for the inclusion of transgender rights, called the bill’s defeat “incredibly disappointing.”

“The fact that Senate Bill 344 won’t be heard on the Senate floor is incredibly disappointing given strong statewide support for updating our civil rights law and all the work that has been done thus far at the Statehouse to keep this conversation going,” the organization said in a statement. “This bill and others introduced this session were deeply flawed, but we were working hard to fix Senate Bill 344.”

ACLU of Indiana also reacted to the bill’s defeat.

“It is extremely disappointing that lawmakers did not allow a vote to occur on the Senate floor today regarding an update to our civil rights law, an update that could have finally put to rest the question of equal protection for LGBT people in Indiana,” ACLU of Indiana wrote in a statement. “Lawmakers left this crucial issue unanswered despite our tireless efforts to help fix the deeply flawed legislation, and despite strong support across the state from faith leaders, business leaders and public officials interested in moving Indiana forward.”