Senate panel quickly advances religious freedom bill

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Republicans on an Indiana Senate committee quickly advanced a proposed religious freedom law before any of the Democratic members arrived to vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved sending the bill to the full Senate in a vote soon after Wednesday's 8:30 a.m. meeting time.

Committee Chairman Brent Steele of Bedford said the panel had numerous bills to consider and needed to start on time.

Democratic Sen. John Broden of South Bend says he would've voted against the bill, but doesn't believe any rules were broken by the committee's action.

Supporters of the bill say it would protect people and businesses from being compelled to provide services for same-sex weddings and other activities they find objectionable. They also maintain the proposal would shield religious minorities from government interference.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and some companies say the proposal could hurt Indiana's reputation and make it more difficult to attract companies.

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