No list? No effective hate crimes law.

A Statement from Ann D. Murtlow, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana.


United Way of Central Indiana is deeply disappointed that members of the Indiana Senate amended Senate Bill 12 yesterday to render it completely ineffective as a bias crimes bill.


Simply put, if there is no list, there is no effective hate crimes law.  On behalf of United Way’s board, staff, partners and the entire Indiana Forward campaign – of which United Way is a founding member with nearly 1,000 companies, universities, civic organizations, and individuals – that’s unacceptable.


It’s unacceptable that the Senate removed the very language and provisions that made SB 12 strong, comprehensive and aligned with 44 other states that have enacted bias crimes laws. There is a reason why the laws of each of these states include an enumerated list of victim characteristics. And there is a reason that legislation in the only other state with a bias crimes law that lacks a list—as SB 12 exists in its current form—has been deemed unenforceable by legal experts.


This has never been a simple measure to get Indiana off a list, but rather an effort to provide Indiana’s judicial branch with the precise, unambiguous and consistent direction from the legislature to deliver justice to bias crimes victims, their families and their communities. The amendment adopted yesterday is an insult to the victims of bias crimes past, present and future and fails to meet the standards that are critical to grow and sustain Indiana’s business climate.


The time is now for Indiana to remove an embarrassing stigma that is impeding the growth of jobs and talent so critical to our economic success.  The time is now for our lawmakers to listen to the 74% of Hoosier voters – including 63% of registered Republicans – who support strong and specific hate crimes legislation. The time is now for all of us to take a stand and call upon our legislators to include an enumerated, comprehensive list of characteristics as the final legislation is crafted.


United Way stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Governor Holcomb, Indiana Forward members, and the state’s business, civic and higher-education leaders in the fight for a bias crimes law that protects all Hoosiers.  We thank Senators Alting, Bohacek and Messmer for their leadership on this important issue.  They set an example for all by demonstrating the courage to fight for measures that move Indiana Forward.  We will continue to work with legislators to get this legislation right for Hoosiers this session.


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