SB 12 provides that a court may consider bias in imposing a criminal sentence. But legislators stripped all lists of protected classes from the legislation. The purpose of listing protected classes in any civil rights or hate crimes laws is to make sure that those who are targeted by discrimination and are most vulnerable, are protected. These laws are in response to violence based on immutable traits and identities, including race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
We oppose the current version of legislation that lists no classes or categories at all. A bill such as this would result in a law that is at best, ineffective and difficult to enforce, and at worst, suppressive of free speech.
Hate crimes legislation involves a delicate balance between punishing criminal acts without stifling thought or speech. As a strong defender of free speech, the ACLU opposes legislation, such as the current version of Senate Bill 12, that threaten to criminalize speech.