JCRC — “Amended bias crimes bill draws support, scorn”

Associated Press, March 26 2019

INDIANAPOLIS (AP and WPTA21) — Gov. Eric Holcomb says he supports a hate crimes proposal that doesn’t specifically list gender identity, age or gender among the protected traits he had supported to get Indiana off a list of five states without such a law.

After the Indiana House unexpectedly adopted hate crimes language Monday in an amended, unrelated bill, Holcomb said in a statement that he endorses the proposal, saying it “treats all people equally.”

The bias crimes language that was accepted on a voice vote mentions color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation, but doesn’t explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity.

“I support and appreciate the action taken by the House (Monday),” Holcomb said. “This measure covers all forms of bias crimes and treats all people equally. Now, we need to make sure we get to the finish line and move Indiana off the list of states without a bias crimes law.”

The Democratic Party Monday evening criticized both the content of the amended bill and the way it was passed.

On Tuesday, the United Way, which has supported more robust legislation, said the amended legislation falls short.

A statement from Mindi Goodpaster, Vice President of Public Policy for United Way of Central Indiana, and David Sklar, Assistant Director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council reads, in part:

Senate Bill 198 does NOT create the comprehensive legislation that Indiana needs and deserves in 2019, and it does NOT meet the standards that our campaign has consistently advocated for since the beginning of the legislative session… While we can continue to further amend this legislation, we simply cannot accept the explicit exclusion of characteristics such as sex and gender identity from Indiana’s bias crimes bill. There is still time for our lawmakers to get this right and pass comprehensive legislation that can be supported by a bipartisan majority of both chambers. 

A Senate committee passed a hate crimes bill in February, but the state Senate stripped out a list of specific protected traits.

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