One thing to be thankful for this holiday weekend is that the Indiana General Assembly finally appears to be serious about passing hate crimes legislation.
At least mostly serious. Two Republican state senators, Ron Alting of Lafayette and Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores, have drafted a bill that would take Indiana off the very short list of states that do not have a hate crimes law, according to Alting’s hometown newspaper, the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
The bill would cover crimes motivated by race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry and sexual orientation. The bill would be better if it stopped right there, with classifications that except for religion essentially are not a choice.
However, the lawmakers also include political affiliation, status as a public safety official, status as a relative of a public safety official, service in the armed forces of the United States and association with any recognizable group or affiliation. This draft of the law may actually go too far, well beyond taking a stand to protect the state’s and history’s most attacked groups. This is not one of those times when Indiana’s lawmakers should think they know better than lawmakers in nearly 90 percent of the other states.
Having said that, Gov. Eric Holcomb deserves praise for his position, stated in July, that “No law can stop evil, but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims, and their voices will not be silenced. For that reason, it is my intent that we get something done this next legislative session, so Indiana can be one of 46 states with hate crimes legislation — and not one of five states without it.”
Legislators need to pass meaningful hate crimes legislation. Alting and Bohacek deserve credit for getting the ball rolling, though this draft needs to roll some more before it finally makes an effective stop.