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'Super-RFRA' Bill Fails To Get A Hearing

Gretchen Frazee
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Advocates on either side of the religious liberty/LGBT rights debate at the Statehouse say they’re not surprised a bill aiming to rewrite last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act died Wednesday without even receiving a vote. 

The proposed bill would’ve labeled certain constitutional rights – including freedoms of religion, speech, thought, and assembly – as “fundamental” and required judges to give deference to them. 

LGBT rights group Freedom Indiana opposed the bill, arguing it threatened to promote discrimination against the LGBT community. 

Campaign manager Chris Paulsen says she’s pleased to see it die a quick death.

“I think it’s a step forward.  Obviously it’s not -- we didn’t move backwards,” Paulsen says.

Indiana Family Institute President Curt Smith says he appreciated the effort to promote those constitutional rights.  But he says he thinks Senate leadership killed the bill because they want to ensure focus is on a different measure – one Senate leaders are backing that seeks to balance religious freedom and LGBT rights.  It’s a measure Smith and his group oppose.

“I think the bill is losing ground," Smith says.  "I’m predicting its defeat or anything but I think it’s losing ground.”

A Senate committee killed the RFRA rewrite bill early Wednesday as debate on the LGBT rights/religious liberty balance measure advanced in a different Senate committee.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.