On Tuesday, Post and Courier correspondent Jamie Lovegrove reported that Republicans on the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee is reversing a decision to exclude "sexual orientation" and "gender" from the protected classes in a proposed hate crimes bill.
The original decision to remove these classes from the bill, which increases penalties for hate crimes, was reported on last week.
"House Judiciary Committee Chairman Chris Murphy, R-North Charleston, proposed amending the bill, H.3620, to limit the protected classes to race, color, religion, sex, national origin and physical or mental disability. That removed earlier references to creed, gender, age, ancestry and sexual orientation," reported Lovegrove. "The reasoning, Murphy explained, was that he had heard concerns from 'a large number' of other House members about the bill being too expansive and wanted to ensure it could make it through the Republican-dominated Legislature by focusing on the protected classes most widely used in other hate crimes legislation."
The change, however, sparked immediate outrage, with SC Equality executive director Jeff Ayers proclaiming the development "a sad day in South Carolina," and Alliance for Full Acceptance director Chase Glenn calling it "incredibly discouraging."
Hate attacks on LGBTQ persons have increased in recent years, according to a recent FBI report.