Interfaith group discusses Georgia's "hate crime" bill

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- A coalition of religious organizations will descend upon the Georgia Capitol Wednesday hoping to convince lawmakers to pass a hate crimes law.

The two main groups behind the effort are the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta and the newly formed Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Center.

“As a lifelong Georgian, I am ashamed of the fact that we’re not willing to face the problem of hate," said Don Plummer, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and the Georgia Interfaith Policy Center. "It’s one of those things that if you don’t talk about it, it continues to grow.”

Georgia had a hate crimes law 20 years ago, but the state supreme court struck it down saying it was too vague.

Since then, some lawmakers have said a hate crimes law isn’t necessary, saying the government shouldn’t be in the business of policing people’s thoughts. Every crime has an element of hate, they said.

However, a new hate crime bill picked up steam last year. The sponsors of House Bill 426 include both Republicans and Democrats. It passed in the House in 2019. It now has stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

State Sen. Brandon Beach, a Republican from Alpharetta, indicated that if the hate crimes bill eventually comes to the Senate floor, it would get his vote.

“I can just tell you, there’s no room for hate in any way, shape or form," Beach said, "so we need to make sure we are protecting all people.”

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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