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STATE HOUSE--A version of the hate crimes bill has passed the House. It does not include protections for people on the basis of age, sex or gender identity. The ACLU has a problem with that. 

The ACLU doesn’t normally get involved in hate crimes legislation because they believe in the first amendment and the right to speak, said ACLU of Indiana Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Katie Blair. But, she says gender identity needs to be included.

“The purpose of listing protected classes in any civil rights or hate crimes laws is to make sure that those who are targeted by discrimination and are most vulnerable, are protected. Not to include gender identity is completely unacceptable,” said Blair.

She said state lawmakers need an education on transgender issues. 

While Gov. Holcomb believes the new version of the bill will take Indiana off the list of states without a hate crimes or bias crimes bill, he is opposed by Democrats who believe the inclusion of race, creed, color, disability and national origin are not enough. 

“We think this bill is unconstitutional and it doesn’t include gender identity,” said Blair. She said she doesn’t believe it will hold up in court.

Holcomb said Tuesday morning he plans to work with leadership in the House and Senate to get all he could added to the bill, which he has supported since last year. Some people who oppose hate crimes legislation do so because they don’t believe the state needs one. Holcomb does not agree.

But, the ACLU opposes it for a different reason, the lack of inclusion of some groups and vague language.

“It is reprehensible that SB 198 passed in a voice vote, so as not to allow constituents the opportunity to hold their elected officials accountable,” said Blair.

Blair said if you oppose the bill you should call representatives and senators to be heard.

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis