Friday, July 07, 2006

Kennedy Backs Hate Crimes Legislation

Marion Co. Democrat prosecutor candidate Melina Kennedy announced today that she will push for hate crimes legislation during the 2007 session of the General Assembly. A press release from her campaign reads:

“All crimes are tragic—for the victim and the victim’s family. Crimes motivated by hate, whether it be prejudiced hate for a person’s religion, race, sexual orientation, color or creed, are tragic for the community,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s hate crimes legislation would be based on the “penalty enhancement” model. Wisconsin’s Hate Crimes statute is a penalty enhancement model and was unanimously upheld by the United States Supreme Court as constitutional. Penalty enhancement refrains from criminalizing hate speech, but creates a stiffer sentence for crimes motivated by hate. Additionally Kennedy’s proposal will include an intentional vandalism clause. Intentional vandalism targets vandalism aimed at houses of worship, cemeteries, schools and community centers.

“Too much of American history has been dominated by hate, but time and again it is overcome by the brave few. This legislation is another important step for our community, the result is that hate mongers cannot hide in the law,” Kennedy added.

Last year Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi (R) told the Indiana Lawyer he would push for a hate crimes bill this year. He later dropped those efforts without explanation. AI later learned that Brizzi dropped the push after GOP legislators discouraged him from pushing what might be perceived as a "pro gay" bill during an election year. Sadly, Indiana Equality did not have a legislative agenda this year that included a hate crimes bill either. Indiana is just one of 4 states in the country without a hate crimes law.


Anonymous said...

If it is true that Brizzi backed away because he didn't want to seem "pro-gay" or he didn't want to pressure the R's in the General Assembly to do the right thing, then I hope that people in Marion County who have any sort of clue will realize that they need a new direction.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly Brizzi attended this years Pride. My guess is that he is on the political "down-low". Courting the gay vote when no one else but us is around.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Kevin--Brizzi didn't attend this year's Pride parade or festival, although a representative of his campaign paid a visit to the Log Cabin Republicans' booth. Melina Kennedy attended the Pride festival.

Jeff Cox said...

I normally do not support hate crimes laws because I believe any attempt to criminalize thought is counterproductive at best. Murdr is still murder whether it's because you hate the person's ethnicity or you want their Rolex.

That said, I am reconsidering hat opinion after I noted an attack that hits a bit closer to home for me. I guess that makes me a selfishitarian. I don't know that this would be an issue, howver, if our criminal penalties where anywhere near as punitive as they need to be.

Kudos to Kennedy for attending the pride festival. Unfortunately, she was taking a grave risk. While I am disappointed more candidates and elected officials did not attend, I certainly can understand it given the atmosphere of Indiana.