Ind. Republican lawmakers make changes to the Religious Freedom - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ind. Republican lawmakers make changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

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INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) -- "We're here to make it right." That's what Indiana Republican leaders are saying.. after making changes to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Republican State Representative Brian Bosma -- who is also the House Speaker says, "We're here. We're here to make it right. We're here to assure those who feel that the RFRA statute will be discriminate against them, that it will not be used for that purpose."

It's been a pubic relations nightmare. Now Indiana's Republican legislative leaders unveiled an amendment that bars discrimination. It also prohibits businesses from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, and accommodations.

"No one who supported that bill that I know of, felt like they were creating a discriminatory situation," said Republican State Senator David Long. It was about putting the nationally recognized standard for review of religious liberty into the Indiana code and because our courts hadn't recognized it themselves, that was the purpose."

"Visit Indy the Tourism Bureau and the official sales and marketing arm for the city actually got together back in early February and made a stance opposing the bill," said Morgan Greenlee, a Visit Indy spokesperson. "To be honest, we've worked decades to build a brand that is Hoosier hospitality and this bill has really questioned that."

Gov. Mike Pence called for changes to clarify the law Tuesday after an uproar over discrimination concerns especially by the LGBT community. This comes as 70,000 fans are expected to head to Indianapolis for the Final Four.

"I will say that with everything that has gone on in the past week and a half, I think for Indianapolis, that really fuels the hunger to make sure that this weekend is flawless," Greenlee said. "We are welcoming all to Indianapolis."

The Angie's List CEO says the proposed changes are insufficient because most Indiana employers can still fire a person for being gay. The company canceled a planned $40 million expansion in Indy that would have created 1,000 new jobs.

The gay-rights group, Freedom Indiana, says the proposal is a step in the right direction, but says statewide non-discrimination protections for homosexuals don't exist.

"The message is clear today," Bosma said. "It's coming from Republicans, Democrats, corporate leaders, the community leaders of all stripes, that Indiana is open for business. We welcome everyone. We discriminate against no one."

A conference committee must discuss the proposed changes. Both the House and the Senate will need to approve them before it heads to the Governor's desk.

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