Last edited: December 07, 2004

Alabama Senate Committee Passes Hate Crime Expansion Measure

A bill sponsored by Alabama state Sen. Rodger Smitherman would expand the state’s hate crime law to cover sexual orientation.

Washington Blade (glbt), March 1, 2002
Washington, DC

State Legislative News: (excerpt)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)—A state Senate committee split along party lines Thursday in voting to expand Alabama’s hate crime law to cover a crime committed because of a victim’s sexual orientation. Six Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for the bill, and five Republicans voted against it.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Rodger Smitherman now goes to the Senate for consideration. The committee’s vote came three years after a gay Sylacauga man, Billy Jack Gaither, was beaten to death and his body burned. Two men were convicted of capital murder and are serving life in prison without parole.

Alabama law mandates minimum mandatory sentences that people must receive if their crime was motivated by race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability.

Senate Republican leader Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills said he objects to hate crimes legislation because it creates a special class of people by enhancing the punishment for crimes against them.

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