CHARLESTON, S .C. (WCBD) – South Carolina continues to join Arkansas and Wyoming as one of the remaining three states in the nation to not have hate crime legislation. The legislation, thought to continue through the Senate Thursday, was stalled until next year.
The stalling of the bill ultimately came from 9 Senate members. Representatives in the House told News 2 that, at first, it was disappointing as it had bipartisan support. In the beginning, the bill even obtained support from the Speaker of the House.
The push for hate crimes legislation is nearly a decade in the making. It comes with a message for all South Carolinians, according to Representative Wendell Gilliard.
Rep. Gilliard said, “All it’s saying is everybody has a right to life, ok, no matter who you are in the state of South Carolina, no matter where you are, what group you belong to, what race, ethnicity, you know sexual orientation. Whatever the case—you are a human being and you have a right to life. And we should never judge or even try to become a judge.”
The measure was believed to be killed off this session due to religious groups expressing concerns of potential hate speech for reciting their interpretations of scripture.
Representative Marvin Pendarvis said the conflict of passage came down to understanding how many live their lives day to day in fear.
He said, “If you’ve never had the opportunity to understand the plight of these historically marginalized communities then typically, you’re going to not have that empathy that you would need to understand the reason for this legislation.”
This bill would have enhanced punishments for anyone who committed crimes that could be proven to be fueled by the victim’s gender, race, or sexual orientation. The hope for the bill was to create a safer place for all South Carolinians.
Representative Pendarvis said that we, as a state, have to evolve our thinking, and the Hate Crimes Bill will get us into the 21st century.
Representative Gilliard told News 2 that the next step for the bill is to continue their partnership with the South Carolina Business Community and amplify it to push the bill forward in January when the session resumes.