Pass Hate Crime Laws in Indiana

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Indiana is one of five states in the US to not have any hate crime laws passed. The bill proposed in Indiana would have allowed bias against a person's race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, or sexual orientation to be considered as an "aggravating circumstance" that could merit tougher sentencing, as is the case with federal hate crime laws. And while the FBI can help investigate and prosecute hate crimes, they rarely take them on because most cases fall under purview of state law. In the week after the presidential election, ten reported hateful incidents occurred. Hate crimes are not as uncommon as you would hope them to be. Mike Pence is one of the most vocal opponents of hate crime legislation stating that to pass such laws "quell religious expression." 

Without hate crime laws, a drunken bar fight is convicted the same as a beating of someone because they are gay, black, transgender, etc. We cannot make claims of acceptance and love when acts of hatred are not being harshly convicted. Hate crimes do not just effect an individual, it makes an entire group feel at risk and unsafe. This was seen in the case of Matthew Shepard when the entire LGBTQ community felt personally attacked and felt as if they had just lost years of progress. This was also seen in the case of James Byrd Jr. who was "lynched" in June 1998 by a group of white supremacists where the African American community felt as if years of progress in accepting other races was lost in the blink of an eye. Hate crimes are clearly not similar to any other crimes and impacts more than just a few people, so why are they convicted as equal to other crimes?

After learning the Matthew Shepard story through performing The Laramie Project this past October, I have become incredibly motivated to push hate crime laws in my very own state. Learning that Indiana is one of five states to not have hate crime laws is astonishing and extremely displeasing. I am only a high school student, but, in numbers, we can make a difference. I hope that one day there are hate crime laws in every state, but for right now, I would like to focus on passing these laws in Indiana. This is not a right wing issue or a left wing issue, it is a morality issue. Hate crimes are very recent and passing these laws in Indiana will further discourage acts committed out of hate and bigotry. Please share this so that the astounding number of hate crimes committed in Indiana will decrease and Hoosiers don't have to be so afraid to be themselves and don't have to worry so much about things they simply cannot change.



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