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Legal challenges to nondiscrimination ordinances will proceed

February 4, 2017

A legal challenge to nondiscrimination ordinances in four Indiana cities will proceed.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday declined to take up an appeal from the four cities, which had sought to dismiss the challenge from the Indiana Family Institute Inc., Indiana Family Action Inc. and the American Family Association of Indiana Inc.

According to The Indianapolis Star, the court's decision means the case returns to Hamilton County to determine whether the state's changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and city ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity are unconstitutionally unfair to conservative Christian groups.

The cities of Indianapolis, Bloomington, Carmel and Columbus were appealing a decision by Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation to reject their requests to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the three conservative groups.

The groups have argued that the human rights ordinances in each of the four cities, which all provide protections against LGBT discrimination, are unconstitutional and “substantially burden” the organizations’ religious freedom by preventing them from hosting pro-traditional marriage events in the cities.

Specifically, they say that the “fix” to the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act was unconstitutional because it prohibits LGBT discrimination unless a person or organization is affiliated with a church or a member of the clergy. With the fix in place, Bopp said the family values groups have no legal protection against the human rights ordinances.

But counsel for the four cities have argued that the three organizations had not yet been negatively impacted by the ordinances and, thus, had no legal standing to bring their case. Further, the cities have argued that because there had been no actual injury to IFI, IFA or AFA, the case was not ripe for judgment.

 

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