As we move closer to 2019, Hoosiers are realizing once again where Indiana falls short in terms of equality. We would like to think all Hoosiers are treated equally regardless of characteristics beyond their control like race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation, but unfortunately, that is not the case in Indiana. Here are some areas that your Senate Democrats intend to address in their efforts to guarantee equality for all in this state.

Marriage Equality

In the United States, the right to marriage is a guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution, and the Supreme Court ruling that cemented that fact occurred over three years ago. Even though marriage equality is the law of the land, Indiana lawmakers are continuing to send the wrong message on marriage. Three years after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, Indiana code continues to be outdated, creating the impression that this state does not follow the Supreme Court’s decision.

Indiana Code 31-11-1-1 still reads that the state will void the marriages of people of the same gender. The Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus will look to update the state’s code so that it aligns with protections the U.S. Constitution guarantees.

Civil Rights Protection

Over three years have now passed since the Statehouse debated and voted on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). To this day, Indiana still lacks statewide civil rights protections for many Hoosiers. With a state RFRA on the books and only a few municipalities with local civil rights protection laws, there still exists a grey area of what could happen to Hoosiers without statewide civil rights protections. Senate Democrats intend to fill this gap in public policy.

Hate Crimes

With the close of the 2018 legislative session, Indiana is still one of only five states that doesn’t have a statewide hate crime law. In the other 45 states, hate crime laws declare that it is illegal to target a victim based on a number of real and perceived characteristics, such as religion, skin color, age, sex, or sexual orientation. Not only are these crimes illegal, but they also carry with them harsher sentencing.  Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) has been pushing for and authoring hate crime legislation for over four years now. He sees the recent support of such a bill by some GOP members as only reactionary, wishing that the GOP majority could have been more proactive sooner. Still, with Gov. Eric Holcomb now backing Senate Democrats’ push for a hate or bias crimes bill, your Senate Democrats will continue to make this issue a priority during the 2019 legislative session.