Alaska lawmakers this year will consider adding crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity to its hate-crime statute.
Two Democratic state representatives, Andy Josephson and Grier Hopkins, filed a bill ahead of the North Star State’s legislative session, according to KTUU, an NBC affiliate.
“It would be as simple as adding five words,” Josephson said.
The move comes after two recent attacks against LGBTQ activist Tammie Willis, a Sterling woman. “I had opened up the garage door to look out to see if my neighbors had lost their power too, and was pushed backward into the garage,” she previously told the station. “As I was getting up, I felt a burning sensation in my arm and I felt something sharp in my chest.”
No one has been arrested in those attacks, but it has prompted Willis to call for proactive action in a state where she previously did not feel the threat of violence.
The proposed legislation may also have some Republican support. State Rep. Gary Knopp has also pledged to push for adding an LGBTQ category to the state’s hate-crime statute.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Alaska is one of 19 states whose hate-crime statute does not address either sexual orientation or gender identity.
There’s been a significant rise in hate crimes nationwide, with one in five such crimes targeting LGBTQ people in 2018.