COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A South Carolina State Representative from Kershaw County has come under fire after a post on Facebook explaining why he voted against the state’s Hate Crime Bill.
Some in the General Assembly are calling for him to be formally censured for the since-deleted post.
South Carolina is one of only three states without a hate crime law on the books.
However, that could soon change after the Hate Crime Bill passed the House on Wednesday with bipartisan support.
The bill passed 79 to 29, with 12 people not voting and four absences. It now heads to the Senate.
One of the 29 lawmakers who voted against the bill was Rep. Victor Dabney, R-Camden.
He took to Facebook on Wednesday to explain his no vote, saying he will “not bow down to the ‘Left.’”
He went on to say he feels his way of life has “been vilified” by Democrats.
“It’s our whiteness and our ‘straightness’ that keeps getting in the way,” Dabney wrote. “No matter how much we give in to them, we just can’t seem to get it right.”
He added: “In our ‘color blind’ society, we are constantly reminded that we are the problem because of our skin color. We are the reason that blacks can’t seem to succeed in our society.”
The Hate Crime Bill would add stricter penalties to violent crimes if prosecutors proved the victim was targeted because they fall under several protected classes. Those include race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.
If the bill passes, people convicted under the law could face up to five additional years in prison if also found guilty of a violent crime.
Dabney said he believes passing a hate crime law would lead to “Hate Speech laws.”
“This will never end until we stop giving in,” the representative wrote.
The post has since been deleted from his Facebook page.
After the bill passed the House, several lawmakers in support of it spoke to the media about the historical moment.
“This is the first time a hate crime bill has passed the South Carolina House of Representatives,” Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia, said. “This is monumental and very significant. (I’m) elated. This took a lot of people and a lot of work.”
Rep. Ivory Thigpen, D-Columbia, added: “It indeed is overdue but better late than never... When we realize Mother Emmanuel was probably one of the -- if not the most -- heinous hate crime in this 21st century, and that South Carolina is ground zero, we really were without excuse for having not passed such legislation. I look at this really as a sacred moment.”
Rep. Weston Newton, a Republican among those who sponsored the bill, said it’s not a party issue.
“Protecting individuals against violent crimes that are motivated by hate -- it’s not a liberal or a conservative issue, it’s not a Republican or a Democrat issue, it’s not a black or a white issue, and it’s not a gay or a straight issue. It’s about protecting all South Carolinians from heinous actions that are motivated by hate.”
He added that there are “safeguards in the bill to make sure we don’t start down a slippery slope in terms of being some type of ‘thought police.’”
Lawmakers believe the bill will pass the Senate, as it has in the past.
Wednesday evening, an email was shared with WIS that appeared to show lawmakers discussing a resolution to censure Dabney for his comments.