An ethnically diverse group of U.S. senators has introduced legislation that would increase penalties for crimes motivated by racism, sexism or xenophobia.
The hate crimes legislation, introduced Oct. 6, is identical to a bill already passed in the House of Representatives. It is based on model legislation created by the Anti-Defamation League and would enhance federal penalties for crimes motivated by a victim’s race, religion, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.
Although the bill sailed through the House by voice vote, a tougher fight is expected in the Senate, said Michael Lieberman, ADL associate director. Lieberman pointed out that some senators have had problems approving legislation dealing with issues of sexual orientation.
The Senate bill’s chief sponsors are Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). who is Jewish; Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D-Colo.), the only Native American in the Senate; and Carol Moseley-Braun (D-III.), the sole African American senator.