The Virginia General Assembly defeated a bill by Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) that would have expanded hate crime protections to individuals based on gender, sexual orientation and disability.
A House of Delegates subcommittee voted down the proposal by a 4-3 party line vote late last month. Republicans on the committee and some legal professionals said adding more protected categories complicates the law, which already punishes violence. The state statute currently applies to race, religion or national origin.
Plum said he plans to reintroduce the bill next year, given the addition of 15 new members who tend to have “more progressive” thinking.
“It’s my desire that we make a clear statement in the law that we do not as a society or as a community support or encourage in any way people committing crimes against other people because of these factors,” he said.
Plum said expanding protections was especially vital given the likelihood of “anti-immigration sentiment in the Trump administration” percolating down to local communities.
“I’m concerned about that the current climate more so in the country and certainly less so in Reston,” he said. “The underlying thing that concerns me that is not spoken but is always in the background is this: some people may want to enact special protections. That’s unspoken… and there’s no way for me to quantify it.” he said.