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C. Eugene Emery Jr.
By C. Eugene Emery Jr. June 6, 2012

Chafee signs hate-crimes legislation

The issue of whether the state's hate-crimes law should apply to transgender people, has been simmering for a while.

The law had covered crimes motivated by race, religion, ethnicity, homelessness, disability, gender and sexual orientation. It requires police departments to compile data on such crimes, although it doesn"t change penalties.

Gay-rights advocates pushed to add transgendered people -- those born under one gender but who dress or act as members of the opposite gender -- to the categories covered by the law.

Two years ago, a proposed law that expanded the definition of a hate crime to cover "gender identity or expression" passed both houses of the legislature but was vetoed by then-Gov. Donald Carcieri. It marked the second time he had rejected such legislation.

After his second veto, Carcieri said the existing law's language on gender and sexual orientation offered sufficient protection. He also said that the proposal's reference to "gender identity and expression" was confusing.

"As long as a criminal act was done willfully and knowingly, the perpetrator's motives are irrelevant," he wrote in his veto message.

Activists disagreed and Lincoln Chafee, in his campaign to succeed Carcieri, said he supported such legislation.

The legislation was reintroduced in the Assembly this year.

On May 17, 2012, the Senate passed S-2488, the same proposal Carcieri vetoed in 2010. It was placed on the House calendar for consideration May 24, where it was approved without debate on a 60-10 vote.

Chafee signed the bill into law May 30, 2012. We rate this a "Promise Kept."

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Our Sources

The Providence Journal, "It seems best to talk first, then decide," June 30, 2010., "Gay Advocates Protest Veto of Hate Crimes Bill," July 10, 2010, accessed May 18, 2012

RILIN.state.RI.US, "2012 -- S2488: An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government - State Police," accessed May 18, 2012

RILIN.state.RI.US, "2012 -- H7111: An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government - State Police," accessed May 18, 2012

Interview, Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, May 18, 2012

E-mail, Christine Hunsinger, spokeswomen, Gov. Lincoln Chafee, June  4, 2012

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