Pride Lafayette hosts open discussion about hate and bias crimes bill

Pride Lafayette hosted a question and answer session with State Sen. Ron Alting to discuss a proposed hate and bias crimes bill.

Posted: Feb 10, 2019 12:15 AM
Updated: Feb 11, 2019 6:21 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Pride Lafayette hosted a question and answer session with Republican State Senator Ron Alting on Saturday to discuss a proposed hate and bias crimes bill.

Indiana Lawmakers are currently working on the bill. Right now, there isn't a clear definition of hate and bias crimes in Indiana law.

Alting and co-author State Sen. Mike Bohacek created this bill to change that.

“You don't want to be a state that shows that you don't stand for inclusion,” Alting said.

Alting told audience members exactly what he told other lawmakers, that this bill will have a great impact on the state.

“You will never, ever see another bill before you, the rest of your career ever, that you will have such a great impact on the people of the state of Indiana,” said Alting.

The bill specifically deals with hate crimes due to race, religion or sexual orientation. This will help victims seek justice. Pride Lafayette President Ashley Smith said the session with Alting was timely.

“It's a very important issue that's happening right now, and we want to get our seat at the table," said Smith. "We want to help out in any way we can,” said Smith.

Smith, like many others in attendance, will see the benefit of this bill. News 18 spoke to SJ Houston, Meredith Richmond, and John Burns, who attended the question and answer session. They said they’re ready to see it move forward.

“I think it only means good things for every person in the state of Indiana to have this bill passed and have the bill passed with the full list, including sexual orientation and gender identity,” said SJ Houston.

“It's so needed,” said Meredith Richmond. "We have to be able to distinguish between a regular crime and a crime that's committed to someone because of a characteristic that they cannot change.

“This is something that all state senators and all state representatives need to be pressed on the issue," said John Burns. "We have support in a patchwork of ways but we need to solidify it."

Alting said a decision for the bill will be made mid-February. He's encouraging communities to support the bill by writing letters to their state senators.

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