Local reaction to Indiana’s new hate crime law

After a six-year battle, Indiana is getting a hate crime law. However, some are skeptical about whether this legislation will actually protect the people who need it the most.

Posted: Apr 3, 2019 9:38 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — After a six-year battle, Indiana is getting a hate crime law. However, some are skeptical about whether this legislation will actually protect the people who need it the most.

Every month, Unitarian Universalist Church lights a flame.

"We light a candle and name a joy or a sorrow," said Minister Rosemary Morrison.

For her, the new hate crime law is both a joy and a sorrow.

"It now creates a second class in a way with our legal system," said Morrison.

While the law specifically protects color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation, it does not mention gender, age, or gender identity.

"I just don't understand," said Morrison.

Republican Senator Ron Alting doesn't understand either. Despite his party's support and the fact he proposed legislation on this topic, he voted against the version the governor signed on Wednesday.

"That was very, very difficult," said Alting.

However, Alting said he wasn't about to vote for something he didn't think would protect all Hoosiers.

"The judiciary system will tell us if this truly is something that has teeth in it and will protect citizens in Indiana on hate crime or if it's a politician's bill that's just words put on paper," said Alting.

Last year, Unitarian Universalist fell victim to what some would call a hate crime. Hateful banners were hung on a fence outside the church.

"There was a reference to Jackson Brown and just some horrible words," said Morrison.

Right now, the fence stands free of hateful messages but the memory of what once was draped there remains. So does the fact the person responsible for the banners was never caught.

"It's been surprising that people still think that there are second class citizens," said Morrison.

Morrison just moved to West Lafayette from Canada. She said she isn't used to having to worry about hate crimes.

"It sort of feels like I've gone back in time a little bit," said Morrison.

However, she is happy something was passed on this topic. She hopes it protects those who need it.

"If it doesn't do the trick, it's at least a step in the right direction," said Morrison.

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