On a vote of 39-8, the Hawaii house of representatives sent a bill to the desk of Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday that would add the classification of "gender identity or expression" to the state's hate-crimes law. Lingle is expected to sign the legislation. Hawaii's existing hate-crimes law covers race, religion, disability, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual orientation, providing authority to give longer sentences if a crime is committed because of hostility based on any of the covered characteristics. Sexual orientation was part of the original hate-crimes law that passed in 2001. "Today from the mainland we celebrate another victory for transgendered people this legislative session," said Lisa Mottet of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's transgender civil rights project. "This year may be the best year yet of passing transgender-specific and transgender-inclusive laws at the state level."
Last month the New Mexico legislature passed two transgender-inclusive bills--an antidiscrimination bill and a hate-crimes bill--which now await signature from Gov. Bill Richardson. Other transgender-inclusive bills are making favorable progress in California, Illinois, and Washington State. Last year Pennsylvania passed a transgender-inclusive hate-crimes law, and New Jersey passed a transgender-inclusive safe schools law. Also last year 14 local jurisdictions, with a total population of 18.4 million people, enacted antidiscrimination laws with transgender protections or added transgender protections to existing antidiscrimination laws.