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Judge Rules Indiana Hate Groups Cannot Challenge LGBT Rights Laws

In 2015 Mike Pence, signed a “religious freedom” bill into law in Indiana that caused a  national uproar because it could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Days later, legislators made revisions blocking its use as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations on the basis of race, religion, gender, military service or sexual orientation. Pence fearing boycotts of the state then signed those revisions into law.

Various Indiana anti-lgbt hate groups including the The Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Family Action and the American Family Association of Indiana then filed a lawsuit against the newly revised law claiming that the changes threatened to “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. (Their definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations) And would also hinder their ability to speak out against same-sex marriages and would expose them to claims of discrimination in hiring.

The lawsuit also challenged local civil rights ordinances that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Indianapolis, Carmel, Bloomington and Columbus, which is Pence’s hometown.

On Wednesday Hamilton County Judge Michael Casati canceled the trial finding that the “conservative groups” failed to prove they were harmed by the changes or by the civil rights ordinances. Casatit did not elaborate on how he reached the decision.

At the time of this posting 21 Indiana cities or counties — representing about 38% of the state’s population — now have local LGBT protection ordinances.

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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