In an interview with The Indianapolis Star's editorial board Tuesday, Brizzi said he is working to change state law so that judges will have the authority to enhance penalties for crimes motivated by bias against a victim's race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Indiana is one of five states that do not officially list hate crimes as a sentencing aggravator. Now, Brizzi said, most hate crimes tend to be categorized as an assault or vandalism.
Brizzi's staff confirmed to AI today that Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) has introduced a hate crimes bill as HB 1459, which is not available online yet. The GLBT community owes a debt of gratitude to Brizzi for his unwavering support for social justice. Observant AI readers will recall that Brizzi initiated his own non-discrimination policy for his office protecting his staff from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity after the City-County Council voted down the Human Rights Ordinance the first time. As with his non-discrimination policy, Brizzi has pushed for the enactment of a hate crimes law without any prodding from Indiana's GLBT community.
It is also reported that Rep. Jeb Bardon (D-Indianapolis) has introduced HB 1716, which amends Indiana's civil rights law to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Nearly 20 states have enacted similar statewide non-discrimination laws, including neighboring Illinois. Gov. Daniels' current EEO policy for state employees already includes this language.
Indiana's GLBT community should be grateful to Rep. Porter and Rep. Bardon for having the courage to sponsor these much-needed laws to promote social justice in our state. AI will provide links to both bills when they become available online and keep you posted on their progress. Please don't hesitate to start contacting your state legislators now and urging their support. Click here for more information on how to contact your legislator.