State lawmakers still at odds over hate crime bill language

Governor Eric Holcomb is endorsing a hate crimes proposal that many say isn’t really a hate crimes bill at all.

After Holcomb endorsed the bill late Monday the Indiana House passed an amendment, which defines “bias crimes” as a crime against someone based on their color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation.

“I support and appreciate the action taken by the House today,” 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.”

Gender identity is not list among those protected groups. That has Democrat lawmakers, like J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis), outraged.

“I am appalled that the governor would support the language added to SB 198. This does not constitute as a hate crimes bill; gender identity is explicitly left out of this proposal,” Ford said. “Republicans’ blatant omission is telling Hoosiers who are attacked because of their gender identity that they don’t matter in this state.”

“I am disheartened to hear about the governor’s decision to endorse a meaningless ‘hate crimes’ bill that does not get us off the list of states without a hate crimes law,” said Senate Democrat leader Tim Lanane. “I had misplaced my trust in our governor in thinking that he would do the right thing by Hoosiers.”

Gender identity had been part of the bill as late as February 19th, but it was take out of the language by House Republicans. The amendment instead added the word “bias” to cover any groups of people targeted in hate crimes.