Bil Browning

Hate crimes attempt fails

Filed By Bil Browning | April 09, 2007 9:08 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Gregory Porter, hate crimes against LGBT people, House of Representatives, Indiana, legislation, politics, SB 45

Today's attempt by Rep Greg Porter to revive his hate crimes bill failed by a vote of 46 to 50. Rep Porter had added the language of his original bill as an amendment to Senate Bill 45.

I'm confident that Rep Porter won't let the issue die and will attempt to pass similar legislation next year. With SJR-7 failing to come out of committee, this was a tough year to ask Democrats to stick their necks out - again.

Here's hoping he'll have a better chance next time - that's a close vote... That not even half of the members would vote in favor just shows how crazy this is. This legislation was well crafted and deserved to be passed with bipartisan support. I'd be reluctant to be the legislator who has to explain voting in favor of hate.

[UPDATE]: Advance Indiana has a post about the hate crimes amendment that lists the who's-who of how the votes went down. Three Republicans voted in favor: Representatives Cleo Duncan, Amos Thomas and Jon Elrod. Five Democrats voted against: Representatives Dave Cheatham, Steve Stemler, Paul Robertson, Bill Cochran, and Robert Bischoff. Four other Democrats didn't vote.

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Jeff Newman | April 10, 2007 7:12 AM

I dunno, Bil, Hate Crimes doesn't exactly seem like "sticking their neck out" to me. I really don't think there's much political risk in this one; Brizzi's support alone ought to provide adequate political cover.

It takes two parties to make a State legisature as bad as the one we have.

I disagree, Jeff. (And usually I agree with you wholeheartedly!)

Only 3 Republicans were willing to support this. Three. Out of 49. While having 3 this time as versus the one we could count on is an improvement, it's still not anything close to "bipartisanship."

If the Dems had pushed this through the Republicans would have hung them in the next elections. The rallying cry thoughout the state would have been, "They voted to allow gay marriage AND to give queers 'special rights'." Now, you and I know neither statement is true, but would Mr. and Mrs. Deep Southern Indiana Hills?

Brizzi's support doesn't mean Jack. He's a county prosecutor. Big deal. What Republican co-sponsored the bill before this new plan of introducing it as an amendment came up? None, as far as I know. Which party sunk it originally?

That said though, I agree with you that this should have been an easy vote. There are plenty of ways to describe the vote to rural Hoosiers that doesn't involve the LGBT community. Both parties SHOULD have been in full support...

But, unfortunately, they weren't. And that's going to make it a lot harder to pass the next time around since legislators will have already voted on it once. And who wants to look like a flip-flopper? Getting someone to switch a vote is always harder than getting them to vote correctly to start with. This attempt shouldn't have seen the light of day if the votes weren't counted beforehand.

Its a real shame that 9 Dems didnt hold the line on such an obvious vote. In any case, I think the one who has really stuck his neck out for us in this case (hate Crimes) was Rep Porter.
We should all make sure we send him an email thanking him for his tremendous effort. I'd be a little ticked off if I were him. But thats politics. I'll also be writing to the 9 Dems to ask what the problem is with a Hate Crimes bill. What is it that they know, that all but 5 other state legislation's dont.
I personally think it was a bit too soon for that vote. Too close to the SJR7 drama. The last thing many dems want is a full page ad in their hometown papers demonizing them like they did to poor Terri Austin.

Allen J. Lopp | April 12, 2007 2:49 AM

Indiana may be one among only five states that still do not have a hate crime law on the books, but the argument against a hate crime law is standard: it is the libertarian argument that a crime is a crime, regardless of the motivation for committing the crime. Why should a murderer get a harsher sentence for picking out, say, a black man or a gay man instead of, say, a rich straight white man he could have killed and robbed? Why is a crime of hatred worse than, say, a crime of greed? (I'm playing devil's advocate here.)

We know the response, that a hate crime precipitates a chilling effect on the entire class of persons being violated. Additionally, hate crime laws are a statement by the populace that certain extreme forms of social prejudice are particularly heinous, and should be punished with enhanced severity.

Nonetheless, my point is that I don't think we are doing ourselves a favor by pretending that it is difficult to defend a vote against a hate crime law; the libertarian argument, that a crime is a crime is a crime, is the only "defense" that most conservative lawmakers feel that they need.


A footnote: Even though Indiana does not have a hate crime law, Indiana law does recognize the concept of a hate crime, because there is a law requiring the collection of hate "incident" statistics. Moreover, this law does include sexual orientation (but not gender identity).

But interestingly, I have never been successful at retrieving said hate crime/incident statistics from any state law enforcement agency that I have requested them from.

(Supposedly the Indiana Civil Rights Commission once collected these stats, but the duty was administratively moved to the Indiana State Police. The ISP, in turn, respond, "We've only had this duty for a short time, and none of the data is ready for release yet.")

Although I have not done a rigorous attempt to hunt them down, I suspect that these stats are not being properly collected (or alternatively, maybe the raw data are being collected, but the data are not being compiled into stats and made available to the public), even though there is a law requiring that "statistics" be collected. Go figure.

But the fact that the Indiana citizenry is not insisting on examining the statistics that already exist, or already should exist, by law, might have something to do with some lawmakers not supporting a hate crime law per se.

P.S.: To clarify, my lack of success at locating these stats is real; my suspicions about why these stats are not forthcoming are totally speculative on my part.