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.