Employers, Advocates, Business Leaders and More Announce a United Effort to Pass a Hate Crimes Law

A broad and bipartisan group of employers, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, faith leaders and more today announced their membership in Indiana Forward, a coalition that will advocate for a clear and inclusive hate crimes law in the 2019 legislative session. In tandem with today’s announcement, the coalition launched IndianaForward.org, an online hub for advocacy efforts, and the Indiana Forward Facebook Page and Twitter handle.


Indiana Forward will mobilize a diverse alliance of companies, organizations and individuals that are calling on lawmakers to protect all Hoosiers with strong legislation that enhances penalties in which a victim’s immutable characteristics – such as race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation – were a motivating factor.


“This is a unifying moment for Indiana’s corporate, nonprofit, advocacy and faith communities around an issue that is foundational to our reputation and prosperity,” said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana. “We’re proud to join Gov. Eric Holcomb’s effort to move Indiana Forward, and we’re committed — now more than ever before —to seeing our lawmakers pass a bias crimes bill that makes it clear that we welcome all in the Hoosier state.”


Hate crimes are on the rise across the country, but Indiana remains one of just five states without a clear and specific hate crimes law. Gov. Eric Holcomb has repeatedly called for inclusive hate crimes legislation, and last week announced that reaching consensus on this issue would be his top priority in 2019. More than 60 percent of Hoosiers support a hate crimes law, including a majority of Republicans (47 percent to 31 percent), according to a November 2018 IndyPolitics.org poll.


This support is echoed by employers, who report that the state’s lack of a hate crimes law fuels a negative perception of the state that hinders their talent recruitment efforts and economic development opportunities.


“Now is the time to show the world that the phrase ‘Hoosier hospitality’ isn’t lip service – it’s one of our state’s core values,” said Michael O’Connor, Eli Lilly and Company and chair of United Way’s Public Policy Committee. “When it comes to attracting and retaining leading employers and top talent, we must send a clear and clarifying message: Indiana is a safe place in which to live, work and do business. We hope all Hoosiers will join us in asking their legislators to move Indiana Forward and declare that hate is not tolerated in our state.”