Amendment to prevent LGBT workplace discrimination fails

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A measure to prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBT people failed in the Indiana House on Thursday afternoon, despite gaining more than a handful of Republican votes in support.

The amendment to a bill on workplace matters, Senate Bill 20, which would have prohibited discrimination in employment, benefits, working conditions and scheduling, failed 59-35. All Democrats supported the amendment, and most Republicans opposed it.

“We just had the most significant vote of the session on LGBT rights and maybe the most significant in a few years,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who proposed the amendment. “It is time to vote. It’s time to put things into action. This is about something on which there’s broad agreement, I thought, which is you shouldn’t be fired or discriminated against for no other reason than being gay or transgender."

Pelath thanked the Republican representatives who voted for the amendment: Randy Truitt of West Lafayette, Ed Clere of New Albany, Jerry Torr of Carmel, Donna Schaibly of Carmel, Tom Saunders of Lewisville,Tom Dermody of La Porte and Sean Eberhar of Shelbyville.

The measure’s failure was panned by advocacy groups, including Indiana Competes, a coalition of hundreds of businesses.

“Although these limited employment protections would fall far short of the comprehensive nondiscrimination policies we support to help move our economy forward, this is an unsettling declaration from our state's lawmakers that Indiana will continue to tolerate legal discrimination against the LGBT community,” said Indiana Competes initiative director Peter Hanscom in a written statement. "The state's business community again finds itself defending Indiana's reputation as an inclusive, diverse and welcoming place for all to do business.”

Grassroots advocacy group Freedom Indiana’s Katie Blair sent an email to supporters saying she was “outraged.”

"Let that sink in for a moment,” Blair wrote. "Employment. The ability to work hard, earn a living and put food on the table for your family? Some Indiana lawmakers don’t even think LGBT people should be afforded that most basic, fundamental freedom.”

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