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House Rejects Hate Crimes Bill

By Associated Press

Montgomery, AL – The Alabama House voted Thursday not to consider a bill to add crimes against people because of their sexual orientation to the state's hate crimes law, despite an emotional plea from the Legislature's first and only openly gay lawmaker.

Birmingham state Representative Patricia Todd said she has personally been a victim of hate speech and is often worried someone will assault her because she is a lesbian.

The bill by Montgomery Representative Alvin Holmes failed on a procedural vote required to bring legislation up for debate. The vote against bringing the bill up for debate was 45-to-43.

Most of the opposition came from Republicans, who said the legislation was not needed because it's already a crime to assault or kill someone, regardless of the reason.

Holmes said the state's current hate crimes law, passed in 1994, includes crimes against people for race, color, religion and national origin, but left out sexual orientation because of a technical mistake.

Thursday's vote most likely kills the bill for the current session.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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