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Indiana Senate approves bill allowing businesses to exercise ‘religious liberty’

Indiana Senate approves bill allowing businesses to exercise ‘religious liberty’

The Indiana State Senate has passed a bill that will permit small businesses to exercise their ‘religious liberties’. 

Critics of the bill, which was created by Social Conservatives in response to the state’s same-sex marriage law being struck down in June 2014, have argued that it would allow small business owners to refuse service to LGBTI people based on their sexuality.

The legislation, SB 101, was approved by a vote of 40-10 on Tuesday, and will now head to the House for a vote. 

‘If you were to ask the question, what is the single most important pillar of our democracy, chances are the answer to that question is going to be freedom of religion,’ said State Senator Scott Schneider during the Senate debate.

‘This bill acts as a shield and not a sword,’ he added.

Jennifer Pizer, National Director of Lambda Legal’s Law and Policy Project, criticized the bill in a statement, saying: ‘We have seen this over and over – bills that say they are about protecting one thing when the real goal is to target and discriminate against LGBT people, with vast implications for everyone else.’

‘As written, this bill will upend the balance between religious freedom and freedom from imposition of others’ religious beliefs.’

‘SB 101 extends religious exercise rights to for-profit companies of all sizes – no matter what goods they make or services they sell, they’re treated much like churches,’ she added.