INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation Wednesday aimed at getting Indiana off a list of five states without a hate crimes law, saying that the conservative Midwestern state has “made progress and taken a strong stand against targeted violence.”
The Republican governor signed the measure into law one day after the GOP-dominated state Senate voted 34-14 to approve the bill’s bias crimes language. Several Democratic senators urged its defeat, saying it falls short of what’s needed because its language does not explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity.
The bill’s passage and Holcomb’s signing it into law comes after repeated attempts to pass a bias crimes law in Indiana failed amid fierce opposition from conservatives who said it would unfairly create specially-protected classes of victims and wrongly restrict free speech.
Holcomb had pushed for more comprehensive legislation with an enumerated list of traits that include gender and gender identity. But he and other Republicans argued that the measure covers all 6.6 million Hoosiers because it covers all characteristics and traits, whether expressly listed or not.
Holcomb said in a statement after signing the legislation, which takes effect July 1, that “our goal was to achieve a comprehensive law that protects those who are the targets of bias crimes, and we have accomplished just that.”
The Anti-Defamation League lists Indiana as one of five states, along with Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas, without hate crimes protections.