An extension of Hawaii's hate-crimes law to protect transgendered people and others whose gender identity might make them a target of abuse has become law without Gov. Linda Lingle's signature. "To my mind, the most-often discriminated-against group is the transgendered souls," said Skip Burns, chairperson of the Civil Unions Civil Rights Movement, an organization that lobbied for the legislation and was instrumental in getting the hate-crimes bill approved in 2001.
The bill, sent to Lingle on April 1, amends Hawaii's hate-crimes law to impose longer sentences on convicts who intentionally victimize a person or their property "because of hostility toward the person's actual or perceived gender identity or expression." Three senate Republicans and eight house Republicans opposed the measure, which automatically became law without her signature 10 days after she received it for consideration. "It was just not something that I felt strongly about, but I know there was controversy on both sides," Lingle said Monday when asked about the measure.
The governor said she had a lot of questions about the concept of hate crimes, "about whether any particular life is worth more than any other particular life, so if you fell within a certain class, somehow the penalty should be greater or lesser." She added that "once you've gone down that road, this seems a reasonable addition."