THE ISSUE: Bias crimes legislation

OUR VIEW: Bill in Indiana Statehouse should be unapologetically specific

The Indiana General Assembly has five weeks left to get it right, to pass meaningful bias crimes legislation.

Gov. Eric Holcomb challenged legislators before the opening gavel fell on the 2019 session to pass a hate crimes bill, allowing Indiana to shed the stigma of being one of only a handful of states without such law.

Legislators, thus far, seem to be fish out of water, flailing dockside rather than swimming toward the sea of enlightenment.

Earlier, Senators passed a watered-down bill that did not include a proposed list of categories of potential victims. Then on Monday, the House approved by voice vote amendments to a bill that still lacks characteristics of those most targeted by acts of hate. The amended bill passed out of the House on Tuesday by a 57-39 vote.

Holcomb is clinging to hope that his vision of a bias crimes bill will eventually reach his desk. At a prayer breakfast Tuesday morning, the Governor told CNHI Statehouse reporter Scott Miley, “We have five weeks left to be persuasive about what we prefer. This is not a one-day scenario.”

We hope there are enough days left to convince lawmakers that a comprehensive measure provides Hoosiers and others the best protection against being targets.

Justice is within reach, but legislators must extend their arms to embrace it. So far, they’ve kept their hands in their pockets.

Indiana should send a clear message that crimes committed against people because of who they are — be it their gender, race, age, national origin, gender identity, disability, religion or sexual preference — will not be tolerated here.

— The News and Tribune editorial board members are Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan, Assistant Editors Chris Morris and Jason Thomas, and Digital Editor Elizabeth DePompei.

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