The appalling symbols of anti-Semitism spray-painted on a suburban Indy synagogue last weekend were another harsh reminder: Too many Hoosiers are victimized – whether by vandalism, violent crime or other persecution – out of prejudice towards their race, religious beliefs, nationality, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Similarly despicable acts continue to be documented across the state, targeting religious institutions, businesses and individuals in large cities and small towns alike; recent incidents show that such crimes aren’t isolated incidents but an issue that demands action now.
Indiana is among just five states without some kind of hate crime (also referred to as bias crime) law allowing additional sentencing considerations for offenses motivated by hate. This dismal distinction is long overdue for change.
It’s heartening to see so many public officials speak out against bigotry. We thank Governor Holcomb for calling for passage of bias crimes legislation during the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
The case for bias crimes legislation continues to build and earn broad-based support from the business community, civic groups and the public-at-large. Many of our organizations have advocated for this issue for several years, and each new incidence of crime inspired by intolerance highlights the urgent need for legislative progress.
Protecting victims of hatred and intolerance is the right thing to do; in this case, ethics and economics share common ground: In a world where the competition for talent is as fierce as the competition for jobs and investment, states and regions are increasingly mindful of the way in which they are perceived – positively and negatively – by the outside world.
Indiana’s failure to act on bias crimes undermines the notion of ‘Hoosier Hospitality,’ a state welcoming to all people. It also damages our business climate appeal to companies that value an inclusive culture and diverse workforce.
We urge the General Assembly to send strong and unambiguous bias crimes legislation to the Governor during the 2019 session. We ask employers, community groups, and all citizens of good conscience to support this important cause, either by working in partnership with or as members of our organizations (listed below) or by individually contacting your lawmakers (find your legislative representatives here).
Our specific stance for legislators and caucus leadership is to allow an open debate and up-or-down vote on a straightforward bill that provides protection for all Hoosiers, inclusive of race, religious beliefs, gender identity and sexual orientation.
It’s time to rise above the tired arguments for keeping Indiana mired in the past, and embrace a brighter future where hate isn’t a value tolerated by Hoosiers.
This statement is supported by a coalition of Central Indiana business organizations: