House Passes Hate Crimes Bill

On April 24, 2001, the Texas House gave final approval to the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Bill.

The bill would increase penalties for crimes motivated by race, religion, disability, color, sexual preference, national origin, or ancestry.

Governor Rick Perry said that the proposed hate crimes law would create "new classes of citizens" and that all Texans were adequately protected under the current law.  A similar bill died in the senate 2 years earlier, primarily because conservatives did not like the sexual orientation part, which would enhance protections for gays and lesbians.