Friday, January 19, 2007

Hate Crimes Bill Plus

Advocates for social justice and, in particular Indiana's GLBT community, are going to be very pleased by the language proposed in HB 1459 by Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) at the urging of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi (R). HB 1459 proposes to amend Indiana's sentencing law to add the following as aggravating circumstances supporting tougher sentences for persons who commit "bias crimes" described as follows:

The person who committed the offense knowingly or intentionally: (A) selected the individual who was injured by the offense; or (B) damaged or otherwise affected property by the offense; because of the color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex of the injured individual or of the owner or occupant of the property.
But that's not all. The bill also creates a civil action which a victim of a bias crime can institute against a bias crime offender if the victim sustained injury or damage to his/her property because the offender knowingly or intentionally selected the victim because of the victim's "color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex of the individual." This private cause of action entitles the victim to recover not only actual and consequential damages, but also treble damages (3 times the person's actual damages), costs and attorney's fees.

And there's still more. HB 1459 also extends the state's civil rights offense law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This provision makes it a Class B misdemeanor to discriminate against a person in offering public accommodations and public housing, or selecting persons to be summoned for trial jury service, because of the person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

HB 1459 has been assigned to the Committe on Courts and Criminal Code, which is chaired by Rep. Phil Hoy (D-Evansville), who has been very supportive of GLBT rights in the past. The bill's author, Rep. Porter, is also a member of the committee. Other members of the committee include the following:

Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend)
Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond)
Rep. Vern Tincher (D-Riley)
Rep. Trent VanHaaften (D-Mt. Vernon)
Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford)
Rep. Jon Elrod (R-Indianapolis)
Rep. Ralph Foley (R-Martinsville)
Rep. Amos Thomas (R-Brazil)
Rep. John Ulmer (R-Elkhart)

If you click on the link to the legislator's name, you will be able to view the legislator's biography, along with a link for how you can e-mail the legislator to urge his or her support for HB 1459. The bill has not been scheduled for a committee hearing yet. As soon as it is, I will let you know the date, time and place of the hearing. Please don't forget to contact Rep. Porter and thank him for authoring this important legislation. Please encourage the committee chairman, Rep. Hoy, to schedule HB 1459 for a hearing and to urge his support as well. The time has arrived for Indiana to adopt this law. Besides Indiana, only Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming have not adopted some form of a hate crimes law.


Wilson46201 said...

I doubt if Brizzi had anything whatsoever to do with this resolution except to finally jump on and support it. Porter, Crawford and other Democrats have been trying for several sessions to get it passed. Perhaps Brizzi can peel away some obstructionist Republicans. Good luck to him!

Can we assume Elrod will be as supportive of this legislation as Mahern was? If not, why not?

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry Wilson,You are completely wrong about Brizzi. It's too bad blind partisans like yourself must constantly question his motives. Elrod has indicated to me he supports hate crimes legislation.

Anonymous said...

Well, Wilson, we have one obstructionist Democrat, Tincher, to get past, too. His brain is like a BB on a four-lane highway when it comes to these issues.

He'll oppose this bill as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow.

And the committee alignment is stacked by only a one-vote D margin.

So we'll need Elrod's vote. He'll be there.

You can contact Tincher, but you're wasting your time. He said as much to me last summer.


Wilson46201 said...

What's that saying from the Bible about there "being more rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner than a hundred saved ... " Bill Crawford, Greg Porter and others of the Black (by default Democratic) Caucus have been pushing this issue for some time now. It is good to see finally some Republicans joining in, including Brizzi. Yes, there are some reactionary Democrats like Tincher but the general Republican Party position has been hostile to this legislation. Republican Eric Miller is not an inconsiderable influence on the GOP caucus!

Anonymous said...

Ignore Wilson. Don't respond to him. Spread the word.

Wilson46201 said...

Ignore Anonymous. Don't respond to her. Spread the word.

Lori said...

This very good news and I applaude all of those behind it.

Anonymous said...

Many Republicans will support Porter's bill.

Who is this Wilson guy anyway? He's on multiple blogs saying silly things. I say ignore him, as well.

Anonymous said...

Wilson is goofy sometimes and overly partisan always, but at least he is not frightening like this Sir Hailstone character who also shows up on a number of blogs including AI.

Alex Blase said...

Can I get a woot for this bill?


Now let's see if Daniels is serious about trying to get young people to stay in IN and supports it as well.

Anonymous said...

Blogs are places of interesting exchanges. The ilk of Wilson and Hailstone choose invective instead of information and debase the exchange. They will eventaully lead to blogs becoming a thing of the past.

Some very good blogs have literaly been ruined by such posters.

I say ignore both of them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon 648. In addition to that, it should be a discussion of the topic/thread. Too often it goes so far off base and turns in to a bickering match I skip their posts and see if anyone else ADDED to the conversation.

Wilson46201 said...

This morning I personally asked Greg and Bill when this Hate Crime Bill was first introduced - they didnt recall exactly when but agreed it was sometime back in the 90s. Wasnt that when Carl Brizzi was still off in Washington as part of that unsuccessful GOP impeachment posse going after our President Clinton?

Anonymous said...

"Who is this Wilson guy anyway? He's on multiple blogs saying silly things. I say ignore him, as well."

Wilson is the guy on Julia Carson’s campaign with Canary yellow hair and a camera. He’s the official foot/ toe rubber for Julia Carson. He loves his corn.

Wilson46201 said...

Chickens love corn, don't they now?

Erin said...

I personally believe that the Governor will support this legislation. The question is whether or not he will actively support it (giving cover to some R's) or simply sign it. I respect Daniels' reticence in not overly interfering in the legislative process, but, hope that behind the scenes he pushes hard for this.

Minor quibble- I applaud both Brizzi and Porter for their stances on this issue. However, I do not believe Porter introduced this bill "at the urging" of Brizzi. Rep. Porter would have done so regardless of Brizzi (as evidenced by his clear past support) or in the face of opposition from Brizzi (thankfully, not the case). Neither is a johnny come lately to this issue. To be clear- I think a more accurate statement would be that Porter introduced the legislation WITH the public support of Brizzi.

Anonymous said...

"Who is this Wilson guy anyway? He's on multiple blogs saying silly things. I say ignore him, as well."

"Chickens love corn, don't they now?"

I though Wilson46201 may have been the Chicken. Then I realized that he could only do and say what he’s told.
The Chicken speaks for all fair-minded citizens in Indianapolis.
Wilson46201 repeats democrat leftwing gibberish.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Erin. I think you're correct.

Ignore Wilson. It will drive him crazier.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for correcting AI's overstatement (to be polite, an "overstatement") that Rep Porter was "urged" by Brizzi. I do think it's a step in the right direction by Brizzi to be supportive. However, he didnt do much the last four years on this while others (like Porter) have tried hard for a long time. I am one that is scratching my head to figure why AI is trying so hard to overstate Brizzi's role here. It doesnt add up. Also, it's not helpful to the ultimate cause of passing this bill - we shouldnt try to overstate anyone's role here but rather support ALL those with the courage to stand by this bill (ESPECIALLY those who have done so consistently for a long time). I think AI has some good insights on some issues but this line of "reporting" has me wondering about his sources or his judgment.

Erin said...


A small caveat to your statement (this is my own personal opinion)- I agree that all who have/are supportive should be applauded. However, I would note that Rep. Porter has had the consistent support on this issue from Congresswoman Julia Carson, while many Republicans have been threatened and intimidated by their own party leaders to not get out of line on this. So, in some ways the issue of speaking out is different for these two individuals. I applaud Porter for his consistency and personal moral values of equality, but, I also appreciate Brizzi's courage (which I think must be viewed differently than Porter's actions) as a Republican to be as vocal as he has been. Democrats face the rebuke of the voters (sadly),not their party leadership, but, Republicans face sanction and punishment from the party structure. The two are different and from either perspective- those who are willing to put their beliefs of equality and justice on the line in the face of prejudice (whether their own party or constituents) deserve support and applause.

Erin said...

I should have added that I am hopeful that when/if this legislation is supported by Republicans we can say that THAT was at the urging of fellow Republicans Brizzi and the Governor.

Advance Indiana said...

I stand by what I wrote. Yes, Rep. Porter has been consistent in his support on this issue. No one, however, has bothered to introduce a bill in the legislature the last few years. Brizzi's office was instrumental in getting it introduced this year. I am truly bothered by the obsession some anonymous posters have in mitigating Brizzi's support of this legislation. It will only pass with bipartisan support. This is one lesson everyone should have learned from the passage of Indy's HRO.

Anonymous said...

Bipartisan support is one thing.

Revisionist history is quite another.

If the bill was not introduced for several past sessions, we should know that. Thank you. Wilson would have us believe Reps. Porter and Crawford, both fine men, have introduced this every year, or close thereto. Evidently, that point is in question. It's a simple look-up.

Mr. Brizzi's support is important, regardless of his party. But I would note he is not a legislator. Maybe he should be, because, in my view, he's a lousy prosecutor, but he's not a member of the Assembly. He's very smart, however, and the legislature, particularly the House, could use the brainpower. And he's part of the (House) minority party, whose leadership on this issue is scandalous.

If he can ring them around, may his tribe multiply.

I doubt he has the power or wherewithall, or gumption.

But if he does, and will spend political capital to do so, he will get my praise, whatever that matters,and he will deserve widespread public praise.

Erin said...

Sorry, anonymous, but I don't agree that the statement that Porter/Crawford not introducing this legislation in the past several years should be read as a lack of support. For the past several years, the Speaker of the House has been Brian Bosma- he is no longer there. This is really the missing key that no one is addressing. The Speaker can effectively kill any legislation by it's committee assignment or simply not bringing for a vote. You wonder why Porter may have taken a break in introducing this legislation? Look no further than the then Speaker. The exact same is true of why Brizzi would not have chosen to lobby for this legislation in his previous term- there is no way he could have found a R sponsor and Bosma would never have allowed that legislation to go forward anyway. Neither Brizzi nor Porter should be faulted for their lack of activity for the past several years. This is just simple political reality. Democrats take over the House and regain the speakership- hence, the legislation has a good committee assignment, a strong chance of not being killed in committee and coming to the floor for a vote. Result? Porter reintroduces the same legislation he had been introducing while D's were in control of the House and Brizzi can publicly support and urge for it's passage. Again, the only changing factor is Bosma.

erin said...

Rishawn Biddle at the Star posted this question on the Expresso page:

"Can the supporters of the hate crimes penalities proposed in House Bill 1459 muster up evidence that gays are being murdered or assaulted at any higher rate than the rest of the population? More importantly, doesn't the laws currently on the books against murder, assault and the like already assure that those committting hate crimes will spend time in prison anyway?"

I posted a response as to why the number of attacks re the population at large has never been the issue of hate crimes legislation.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw this over here if anyone wants to comment on the Expresso page.