Full Update on SB 439 – Bias Crimes

On Tuesday February 7th SB 439 was heard and passed by the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee. The bill passed by a margin of 6-3.

While the bill was awaiting 2nd reading on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday an amendment was authored by Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) to strip out the list of protected classes such as “Race”, “Religion”, “National Origin”, etc., and replace it with language focusing generically on “any characteristic, belief, practice, etc….”. This poses a number of problems including that the statute will be effectively unusable by prosecutors because courts won’t know how to properly apply the law.

On the surface opponents of the bill and proponents of the amendment (Christian conservative organizations like the Indiana Family Institute and Advance Indiana) argue that SB 439’s original language does not protect things like targeting due to political persuasion or other characteristics not identified. The true reason for their opposition and amendment is that they cannot support any statute that includes “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Organizations supporting this legislation have already committed publicly to not support a bill that does not include those groups.

Sen. Glick, SB 439’s author and champion, has continued to hold the bill on 2nd reading in order to push back against Sen. Delph’s amendment and continue to maintain support for the bill.

As a reminder – the language in SB 439 passed the Senate last year 34 – 16. It passed with no opposition in committee or on the floor during floor debate. We believe this language can and should be passed again and we will continue to need your support to do it.

You can continue to call your Senators to voice your support SB 439 as it was originally drafted and passed by the committee. We are also in the early stages of planning a Statehouse action day for Thursday February 23rd. Please look for more timing and logistical information to be posted soon.

Once again thank you all for your support and advocacy. With your help we will get this bill passed this session.