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Indiana Senate delays progress on hate crimes bill

“What’s really important is keeping in the back of your mind is how many people this really affects,” said Jason Wilkinson, Executive Director of LGBTQ Center of South Bend.

Talks of having a hate crimes law in Indiana are far from over. Just one day after Indiana lawmakers delayed voting on legislation targeting hate crimes local organizations are weighing in.

“We need to make sure that those laws are in place,” said Wilkinson.

The bill would allow judges to impose harsher sentences on someone for committing a crime due to race religion sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There are people who do unfortunately kill people based on the fact that they have a different skin color, or the fact that they are identified as either gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer or questioning. So on that side it’s those things that we want to make sure that there are those protections in place,” said Wilkinson.

Currently, Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime, or bias crimes law in place.

It’s something that South Bend mom Patricia Forrest can’t wrap her head around since losing her son, Jodie Henderson.

Prosecutors say Jodie was murdered because he was gay.

“It’s been two years… that I laid my son to rest. It’s not easy but I’m getting through and getting by. You know I can’t bring my son back but the one who killed my son and whoever was involved should have been charged for a hate crime. That wasn’t enough for us but I had to deal with it,” said Patricia Forrest, Jodi Henderson’s mother.

But Wilkinson has been following the progress of the potential future law and says even more can be done.

“Just allowing the judge to make that decision on his own isn’t enough.” BUTT: “to give the judges the power that ‘no, if they prove it’s a hate crime, you can add this much more time to their sentence,” said Wilkinson.

“I believe a ‘hate crime bill’ should be passed because we need it,” said Forrest.

Organizers along with Jodie Henderson’s mother say they’ll continue to follow the details and progress in this potential law to push for protections. More information on that bill can be found here.

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