The Indiana Senate Legislation is currently on the brink of letting some state contractors discriminate during the hiring process based on religion.
Senator Travis Holdman is the author of Senate Bill 127. The bill would permit organizations which are religiously affiliated and receive state contracts to hire employees based on their religion. This will include universities/colleges, child care providers and hospitals, and would permit these organizations to make their workers follow religious doctrines.
Sen. Holdman claims to have filed the bill in order to assist the Indiana Wesleyan University in obtaining state workforce training grant funding. Last year, the Attorney General’s office declared that the religious lifestyle directive violated state contracting requirements specifically the ones that are against employment discrimination.
Holdman said, “My concern is that we have a large number of religious organizations providing services to the state of Indiana.” Those who oppose the bill claim that organizations who are seeking public funds should have to afford equal treatment to all members of the public.
A spokeswoman for Indiana Equality Action named Chris Paulsen claims that religious institutions should have the ability to hire whomever they want and require their workers follow their religious tenets but only as long as they are not getting public money. She believes that once a religious institution either receives public money or bids on public projects, that institution should be required to follow the same rules that public businesses do regarding discrimination regardless of whether or not it is based on gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.
Tim Lanane, Senate Minority Leader attempted to add language to the bill prohibiting sexual orientation-based discrimination, but it was voted out 36-6. The bill is said to be one of many “religious liberty” bills be that have been filed this session by Republican lawmakers.
A number of the bills would restrict the actions of the state o keep them from burdening a person’s religious exercise rights. Other bills are for the protection of students expressing their religious views in school work and public school teachers displaying Christmas trees in classrooms.
If the bill does pass the Senate, the House would still need to approve it.