House OKs SC hate crimes bill

After just two hours of debate, the South Carolina House of Representatives has given a second reading to a hate crime bill.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 4:36 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:28 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - After just two hours of debate, the South Carolina House of Representatives has given a second reading to a hate crime bill.

The “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act” got the second reading essentially, passing in an 84-31 vote.

More than half the 124-member chamber in the South Carolina House of Representatives are sponsoring this bill, which would establish a hate crimes law in South Carolina.

“This is a great day once again in South Carolina,” State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D - Charleston and the bill’s lead sponsor, said.

Celebration came from House Democrats after their chamber passed the bill in a bipartisan vote.

“This is an aspirational goal,” State Rep. Jason Elliott, R - Greenville, said. “It’s a message that we that don’t put up with hate. It’s a message that we are a place that South Carolinians can be proud of.”

The bill would provide for penalty enhancements and additional prison time and fines for people convicted of violent crimes that are determined to have been perpetrated as hate crimes against someone(s) because of their race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.

“The bill that’s before you, it protects everybody in this room; it protects everybody in this building equally,” Judiciary Committee Chair Weston Newton said.

Those violent crimes include, for example, murder, aggravated assault and armed robbery, but would not include crimes like vandalism.

Opponents unsuccessfully proposed a number of amendments designed to knock this bill’s passage off track, including adding categories like hair color and political affiliations to the protected classes.

“Why would we protect some people on certain bases and not others?” State Rep. Josiah Magnuson, R - Spartanburg, asked.

Others tried to remove gender and sexual orientation from those protected classes, also, unsuccessfully.

“The bill contains language right out of the playbook of the national LGBTQ-plus, leftist playbook,” State Rep. John McCravy, R - Greenwood, said.

The bill will next move to the Senate, where it died last year after never getting a floor debate.

“This bill will tell the state and the world we are one in South Carolina,” Gilliard said. “We stand for progress. We stand for unity.”

South Carolina remains one of two states without a hate crimes bill.

Pinckney was a state senator and one of the victims of the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in 2015.