SOUTH BEND, Ind.---Indiana is just one in five states that doesn’t have a hate crime law. That could soon change. Today after hearing nearly three hours of testimonies, a state senate committee voted 9-1 to move a bill along to the full senate.
A big part of the discussion in today’s hearing was if the bill should include classes such as sexual orientation and gender identity.
Under the umbrella of the Senate Bill 12, the bias-motivated crimes would include things such as race, gender, religious affiliations, service in the armed forces, disability and more. Some say classes shouldn’t be included in the bill, but Rev. Chip Roush, of the First Unitarian Church in South Bend and board member of the LGBTQ Center, said he believes they actually are necessary.
“We’re trying to make a classification of crime that is against anybody,” said Rev. Roush. This gives police tools and this gives the courts more tools for people who are terrorizing our citizens.”
Rev. Roush said by leaving this language out of the bill, it could help people understand how this affects groups most targeted by hate crimes.
South Bend Common council member, Jo Broden said she believes this bill will make it clear that hate crimes will not taken lightly.
“It really sends a message of intolerance for that as a state and down to our local levels.”
*UPDATE* Political affiliation not included as language being covered in bill.