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Indiana moves a step closer to hate crime law with Monday's vote

Posted at 12:05 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 19:52:53-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana moved one step closer Monday morning to being one of 46 states with a hate crime law on the books.

The Senate Public Policy Committee passed Senate Bill 12, 9-1. It would create a law specifically against crimes fueled by biases against factors such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The testimony on both sides of the debate began at about 8 a.m. and lasted for nearly three hours.

Curt Smith and Ryan McCann of the Indiana Family Institute spoke in opposition to the bill.

“When you start coming up with lists, you restrict and narrow,” Smith said. “You should have a very broad effort in our legal system to make the punishment fit the crime.”

Micah Clark, of the American Family Association, also spoke out against the bill, and specifically with the language of a “hate” crime.

“Victims deserve justice regardless of motive,” he said. “Are other crimes committed of love and generosity?”

Gov. Eric Holcomb has voiced his support for a hate crime law in the state, after anti-Semitic graffiti was found at a Carmel synagogue last year.

"I think it's long overdue that we move forward as a state," Holcomb said last year. "I want to be one of 46, not one of five."

Among the groups who spoke in support of the bill were the Indiana Pacers, the Indianapolis Colts, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Old National Bank, Cummins, Eli Lilly and Anthem.

Dr. Joan Duwve, the associate dean of Public Health Practice at IUPUI, testified about her transgender daughter. She said her daughter teaches undergrad physics students at UMass, officiates roller derby and leads women in a STEM group.

“She’s the kind of daughter any parent would be proud of,” Duwve said.

But she said her daughter doesn’t like to drive to Indiana because she is scared of having to stop to use the restroom in the 10-hour drive. When she flies, she gets a security pat down every time, Duwve said.

Before voting, Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, said he felt it was ironic that the bill was being heard on President’s Day, as he remembered presidents like Lincoln, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who worked with members of the other party.

“We work bipartisan on this bill because this is a people bill,” Alting said. “This is about our people. I have no control about what has happened in history in some of these issues. But I say to my colleagues in Public Policy, we do have control of our future. On this vote today, you can be on the right side of Indiana history. But more importantly, you can just be on the right side.”

The bill will move to the full Senate.

Watch the full hearing below.