On Monday, House Republicans amended an unrelated piece of legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 198, into a senseless attempt to pass their own version of a hate crimes bill. However, the amended language does not include protections for crimes committed due to a bias based on age, gender or gender identity. By neglecting to outline protections for all Hoosiers, the supermajority is prioritizing some individual’s protections above others. This is a blatant attack on our most vulnerable Hoosiers.
The Indiana Senate Democrats will not rise in support of legislation that does not protect all Hoosiers equally and we will continue to fight to pass a comprehensive, inclusive and meaningful hate crimes bill. Additionally, the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus will never promote making critical legislative decisions outside the public eye as the House Republicans did with this odious amendment. This language was pushed through by House Republicans with little notice to legislators, zero public testimony and a rushed through process on the House floor. This is not how we should be legislating. The public deserves government transparency, especially on an issue where 74 percent of Hoosiers want inclusive language in a hate crimes bill. This discussion of protecting all Hoosiers should not be a partisan issue.
Here is what our members had to say in response to the meaningless language added to SB 198:
Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson)
“I had misplaced my trust in our governor in thinking that he would do the right thing by Hoosiers. Hoosiers deserve better and the Senate Democrats will continue to fight to ensure that Indiana passes a meaningful bias crimes bill that doesn’t leave any one out.”
Senator J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis)
“Republicans’ blatant omission of gender identity from SB 198, is telling Hoosiers who are attacked because of their gender identity that they don’t matter in this state. This is just another attack on the LGBTQ+ population, and I will not let the supermajority try to divide Hoosiers by only giving protections to some.”
Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis)
“The Senate Democrats and I will keep fighting to get a real bias crimes bill passed in Indiana—one that doesn’t discriminate against anyone. I hope that the governor recognizes that Indiana can produce a more inclusive hate crimes bill than SB 198, and that he supports us in our efforts to make that happen.”
Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary)
“The governor once stressed the importance of inclusive hate crimes legislation, but voiced his support of a bill that is unacceptable and frankly a heinous attack on the people that legislators pledge to protect. Indiana needs to be removed from the shrinking list of states without a hate crimes law and this bill does not accomplish that task.”
The Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus will not stand idly by and allow any Hoosier to be overlooked by the law. Call Senator Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) at 1(800) 232-9400, and demand that he oppose the amendment and dissent on SB 198. Also, call Governor Holcomb at (317) 232-4567, and urge him to veto this legislation and push his supermajority into passing an inclusive bias crime bill. There is still time to stand together and fight for equality and acceptance for all Hoosiers through a comprehensive and inclusive bias crimes law.