(AP) — Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he supports proposed hate crimes
legislation that doesn't specifically list gender identity, age or gender
among its protected traits, despite his repeated calls to get Indiana off a
list of five states without a comprehensive hate crimes law.
The Republican-controlled Indiana House unexpectedly adopted hate crimes
language Monday in an amended, unrelated bill. House Democrats immediately
came out against the amendment, saying it was hashed out in secret and
deliberately excludes protections for more than half of the people living in
said in a statement that he supports and appreciates the proposal that
"covers all forms of bias crimes and treats all people equally." In January,
he had pushed for more comprehensive legislation in the conservative state.
need to make sure we get to the finish line and move Indiana off the list of
states without a bias crimes law," he added.
crimes language was added to a bill on controlled substances in state
prisons. It mentions color, creed, disability, national origin, race,
religion and sexual orientation, but doesn't explicitly cover age, sex or
committee had passed an unrelated hate crimes bill in February, but a few
days later the state Senate stripped out a list of specific protected
traits, including sexual orientation, gender identity and race.
The bill amended Monday was accepted by voice vote, which means citizens
don't know who did and did not support it.
Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, who brought the amendment, said the revised
language covers everyone possible.
everybody's had a chance to be heard," he said. "I've spoken to everybody
you can humanly think of multiple times, and I've taken everybody's concerns
Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne opposed the amendment because
it left out key classes that need protection. He said the House Democratic
caucus is majority women and that they are not explicitly covered by the
refused to support a proposal that failed to protect more than half of
Indiana's population: women. We stand ready to work with House Republicans
to pass a hate crimes bill this session that protects all Hoosiers,"
GiaQuinta said. "The ball remains in their court."
accused Republicans of working "behind closed doors" and using sleight of
hand to limit debate and discussion.
comprehensive hate crimes legislation that protects all Hoosiers. That is
not what House Republicans proposed here today," GiaQuinta said.
Steuerwald's bias crimes language is more comprehensive than the hate crimes
legislation the Senate had changed in February to strip out a list of
specific protected traits Holcomb had supported.
altered version of that bill said only that judges can consider bias as an
aggravating circumstance when weighing a stricter sentence for a crime.
Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas have no explicit hate
crimes law allowing for higher sentences when a person's sexual orientation,
race and religion are the basis for a crime. Those laws vary to some degree
but generally allow for stiffer sentences to be given to people who are
convicted of crimes motivated by hatred or bias.