In 2014, the world frowned upon Indiana as the Republican supermajority tried to force a same-sex marriage ban into our constitution. One year later, the supermajority again faced massive push back on the world stage after the blunder of the discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Now, in 2019, it seems that the Republican supermajority is again on a path to make another egregious mistake: keeping Indiana on the list of only five states without a hate crimes law on the books. How many times until Republicans learn that Hoosiers don’t want and don’t need these discriminatory laws?
On Tuesday, 33 Republicans voted to strip Senate Bill (SB) 12 of its list of intrinsic characteristics ⸺ including race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation or age ⸺ which a judge could use as a basis for determining a hate crime during sentencing. Now with this empty shell of a bill having been pushed through the Senate, it’s up to the Indiana House of Representatives to make the bill an inclusive bias crimes proposal once again.
Hate still rears its ugly head in our state, and recently, we have seen hate crimes occur right here in the Indianapolis area. Just this week, after a traffic encounter on I-465, Mustafa Ayoubi was horrifically shot in the back and killed after the shooter yelled Islamic slurs including “go back to your country” and “Muhammad is a pedophile.”
Last year, we saw a Carmel synagogue defaced with swastikas and iron crosses, and a fire was started on the grounds. The criminals committed these acts because the place was “full of Jews.”
Year after year, Hoosiers are attacked for their race, for their religion, for their sexual orientation and for a number of other inherent characteristics. Black children are beaten, religious groups are harassed and LGBTQ+ youth are persecuted for who they are. These aren’t hypothetical situations. These aren’t over-hyped stories from another state. These attacks and these deaths are happening right in our backyard, and yet the majority of Republicans in the General Assembly still refuse to approve a hate crimes law.
The majority of Hoosiers, our business leaders and religious advisers all want a clear, concise and inclusive hate crimes law that includes a list of immutable traits that a judge can easily reference when sentencing a criminal. In its current form, SB 12 is not a bias crimes bill. Hoosier citizens know this bill is not hate crimes legislation. Our business community knows this is not hate crimes legislation. Even our own governor has spoken that SB 12 does not take Indiana off the list of five states without a hate crimes law. 33 Republican senators decided for all of us that not every Hoosier matters. They decided when gutting this bill that not every Hoosier deserves respect ⸺ that they are fine to ignore the crimes committed against our friends and neighbors just because of who they are.
Senate Republicans had multiple chances to right the ship and pass a bias crimes bill, but they refused each time. Thankfully, there is still time to change this bill and make it inclusive and effective. We encourage you to call the governor’s office at 317-232-4567. Call the Indiana House of Representatives at 800-232-9400. Tell them that you demand that SB 12 be turned back into a true bias crimes bill. Tell them to add the list of protected characteristics back into the legislation. Tell them that it’s time Indiana joins the 45 other states that have passed a clear, concise and inclusive hate crimes law.
Your Indianapolis Democratic Senators,
Sen. Greg Taylor Sen. J.D. Ford
Sen. Jean Breaux