Tags: Texas | OKs | 'Hate | Crimes' | Law

Texas OKs 'Hate Crimes' Law

Friday, 11 May 2001 12:00 AM

A similar bill died two years ago in the Texas Senate because supporters of the legislation said then Gov. George W. Bush opposed it. Democrats made the failure of the bill an issue in Bush's campaign last year for the White House.

In a ceremony Friday, Perry said he still had reservations about the law because it created groups of crime victims according to race, religion, and sex.

"I continue to have questions about the eventual wisdom of dividing people, when our energies should be dedicated to bringing them together," he said.

"But I also believe that as the governor - and as a Texan - I have an obligation to see issues from another person's perspective, to try to walk in another person's shoes. I have sought to do that in considering this bill and believe that it should now become law."

Perry said some would disagree with his decision.

"I would simply ask that they also try to do what I have done - to walk in another Texan's shoes."

Earlier this week, two conservative Christian groups urged Perry to veto the so-called hate crimes law because of objections to the grouping of crime victims. During one day this week, Perry's office received more than 400 calls, most of them opposing the bill.

The bill was named after James Byrd Jr., the black man who was dragged to death three years ago in Texas. Perry also spoke to members of Byrd's family who were invited to the ceremony.

"You have suffered unimaginable pain that no Texan should have to endure," he said. "I hope you can find some peace in knowing that his death was not in vain as Texas today takes a strong stand against crime motivated by hate."

The current Texas hate crimes law was considered vague and out of line with a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision that defined a so-called hate crime as one motivated by "the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry" of the victim.

Byrd was dragged to death near Jasper, Texas in 1998 after he was chained to the back of a pickup truck by three white men. All three men were convicted of capital murder.

Two were sentenced to death and a third to life in prison. Liberals have not said what harsher penalties they would have liked for the murderers.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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A similar bill died two years ago in the Texas Senate because supporters of the legislation said then Gov. George W. Bush opposed it. Democrats made the failure of the bill an issue in Bush's campaign last year for the White House. In a ceremony Friday, Perry said he still...
Texas,OKs,'Hate,Crimes',Law
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2001-00-11
Friday, 11 May 2001 12:00 AM
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