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Indiana is still a state where a man or woman legally can wed his or her same-sex partner on a Sunday, and legally get fired for being gay on a Monday.

The General Assembly this year declined to enact, or even consider, anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers in employment, housing and public accommodations.

That's despite lingering damage to Indiana's reputation caused by Gov. Mike Pence's approving the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that appeared to the nation to encourage discrimination against homosexuals.

While the "religious freedom" law later was changed to bar religion as a justification for discrimination, the so-called "fix" did nothing to protect gays from discrimination for any other reason, or no reason at all, given Indiana's "at will" employment statute.

"To say this year's legislative session was a let-down would be an understatement," said Chris Paulsen, campaign manager at Freedom Indiana, a coalition of business and community groups pushing for statewide civil rights protections.

"Lawmakers' refusal to put forth serious effort to address LGBT nondiscrimination — despite having promised to do so — flies in the face of the strong majority of Hoosiers and hundreds of local businesses who wholeheartedly support a simple and fair solution: Four words and a comma to add 'sexual orientation, gender identity' to existing civil rights law," Paulsen said.

Since the Legislature adjourned in March, Freedom Indiana has worked to enact or expand LGBT human rights ordinances in communities across the state, including Hammond, Munster and Valparaiso.

In addition, Lake County and Michigan City prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, though not gender identity.

The issue of how to prevent gender identity discrimination is what prompted Indiana Senate Republicans in February to scuttle a committee-approved plan providing civil rights protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual Hoosiers — but not transgender individuals — tempered with a broad exemption for nearly any entity claiming a religious affiliation.

Senate Bill 344 did not receive a chamber vote after senators filed some 27 proposed amendments, including several "bathroom bill" provisions that subsequently harmed North Carolina businesses after being enacted there.

Wait-and-see approach

Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said it wasn't clear the legislation would pass the Senate, even if any or all of the suggested changes were adopted.

"They didn't want to go through the pain of having all this discussion if, in fact, in the end the bill was not going to move," Long said.

"We also got messages from the House that they weren't really probably going to seriously consider it. I don't know what the message was from down on the second floor; we still aren't sure what the governor would or wouldn't have done. All of that weighed into a difficult environment for us."

Indeed, 59 House Republicans later would reject an amendment to Senate Bill 20, proposed by House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, that would have prohibited employers from discriminating in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"This shows you how far the public needs to push some of its representatives to bring our laws in line with the attitudes and beliefs of the people," Pelath said.

In August, a joint House and Senate study committee heard familiar testimony from proponents and opponents of an LGBT civil rights law, ahead of possible consideration during the 2017 legislative session that begins in January.

State Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, the committee chairman, said afterward that he expects pending federal court cases on LGBT discrimination issues will either resolve them before the Legislature can act, or lead lawmakers to take a wait-and-see approach in 2017 to avoid getting pre-empted by a federal ruling.

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