Groups rally for hate crimes bill with protected classes at The Commons

A rally yesterday at The Commons had a simple message to state legislators: No List, No Law.

Community and business leaders urged legislators to reinstate a list of protected classes to the state’s proposed hate crimes bill. The Indiana Senate removed those categories before sending the bill to the Indiana House. The proposed law would allow judges the option to enhance sentences because of the bias against victims.

Without the list of protected groups, the law is essentially meaningless says the Rev. Nic Cable, with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus.

Mark Osowick, vice president for human resource operations at Cummins Inc., said that the lack of protections makes it harder for Cummins to compete for top-notch personnel from around the world:

And even with existing employees, Indiana can be seen as an unwelcoming place,  Osowick said.

John Budd, vice president of physician enterprise at Columbus Regional Health, says that to meet the needs of the modern health care system, CRH has to recruit for doctors and caregivers from other nationalities and communities. Anything that makes Indiana and Columbus be seen as less inclusive, means attractive candidates won’t even consider moving here.

Mariam Nakyobe, a Cummins employee and member of the Islamic Society of Columbus, said that the promise of America is that everyone will be treated equally.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop reflected on Columbus creating its Human Rights Ordinance 50 years ago, and the message it sent to minorities that they were welcome here. He said hate crimes are different than normal offenses, because they are also meant to send a message.

Indiana is one of only five states without a bias crimes law on the books.