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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, May 26, 2001

Cayetano to sign 'hate crimes' bill

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday he will sign a bill that imposes harsher penalties for "hate crimes."

The new law would apply to offenders who target their victims on the basis of sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, disability or ethnicity.

Cayetano said he usually opposesbills that create different punishments for different "categories" of victims, but said he will sign the bill "because in this particular case I think there is a statement to be made."

"You always struggle over these things," he said. "Even though in Hawai'i we do not have the problem yet, for me it's a close call. Rather than just let the bill become law, I will sign the bill instead."

Although the bill would punish offenses against a variety of different kinds of people, it came to be seen at the Legislature as a measure mostly meant to protect gay men and lesbians. Advocates cited cases that they said showed how gays were attacked in Hawai'i because of their sexual orientation.

The bill would impose penalties of up to life in prison for Class A felonies, which are now punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

It would impose penalties of up to 20 years for Class B felonies, and up to 10 years for Class C felonies. Those offenses are now punishable by up to 10 years and up to five years respectively.