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Saturday, March 15, 2003

Hate Crime Bill Wanted

By Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Gov. Bill Richardson wants to punish people who commit so-called hate crimes and who discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation.
    But he needs the Legislature's help.
    Richardson on Friday asked lawmakers to send a hate crimes sentencing bill and an anti-sexual orientation discrimination measure to his desk.
    "It's my sincere desire that New Mexico remain a beacon of hope, of diversity, of tolerance and of justice for all people. It is in this spirit that I ask the Legislature send me for signature the hate crimes bill and the nondiscrimination bill," he said.
    The Senate has approved a measure (SB 38 and 249 committee substitute) that defines crimes based on someone's sexual orientation, race or religion, among other things, as hate crimes. That bill, sponsored by Sens. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, and Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, goes to two House committees for consideration.
    Another measure (HB 314), which would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation, has passed the House and is headed to the Senate for consideration. Rep. Gail Beam, D-Albuquerque, is sponsoring that measure.
    A companion measure (SB 28), sponsored by McSorley, has passed the Senate and is pending in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
    Under those bills, people who are discriminated against would have legal recourse and protection under the law.