NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 3, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Texans Back James Byrd Act
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Texas Poll Shows Widespread Support for Tougher Hate Crimes Law

(AUSTIN)// As the Texas Senate prepares to consider HB 938, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, a new poll shows a growing consensus that more must be done to punish and prevent hate crimes in Texas.

A new Texas Poll demonstrates overwhelming support among Texans for a strong hate crimes law that protects everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. According to the poll, 81 percent of Texans support including race, 80 percent support including gender, 78 percent support including religion and 76 percent support including sexual orientation in a strong hate crimes law.

"The results of the Texas Poll show Texans want laws that stand up to hate," said Senator Ellis. "Across Texas -- regardless of age, education, wealth, region, race, gender or political affiliation -- Texans clearly want us to do more to punish and prevent hate crimes. Hopefully the Texas Senate will listen to the people of Texas and pass the James Byrd, Jr. Act."

Texas' current hate crimes statute, authored by Senator Ellis in 1993, has been criticized as too vague to enforce. The James Byrd, Jr. Act will strengthen current law by defining a hate crime as one motivated by the victim's race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual preference. The Byrd Act elevates the punishment for a crime determined to be motivated by hate. The legislation would not elevate the punishment for homicide and other first-degree felonies.

Following are highlights of the April 26, 1999 Texas Poll.

Crimes motivated by hate.

Some states have special laws that provide harsher penalties for these crimes. Do you favor or opposed this type of hate crime law in Texas?

Favor...............72
Oppose...........17
Neutral..............3
Don't know.......8

Which of the following groups should be covered by hate-crime law?
  Minorities Women Homosexuals Religious
Groups
Region:
North 80 % 81 % 76 % 80 %
West 85 % 88 % 78 % 80 %
South 81 % 80 % 78 % 78 %
Gulf 83 % 80 % 75 % 78 %
East 75 % 73 % 67 % 72 %
Central 83 % 81 % 77 % 79 %
Political Party:
Republican 70 % 67 % 63 % 67 %
Democrat 90 % 89 % 86 % 89 %
Independent 83 % 85 % 77 % 79 %
Age:
18-25 85 % 84 % 82 % 80 %
26-35 90 % 89 % 83 % 85 %
36-45 82 % 81 % 76 % 80 %
46-55 76 % 77 % 71 % 75 %
56-65 73 % 73 % 69 % 72 %
66 and over 81 % 79 % 73 % 77 %
Income:
Less than $10,000 76 % 78 % 74 % 74 %
$10,001 - $20,000 94 % 91 % 90 % 89 %
$20,001 - $30,000 83 % 84 % 78 % 82 %
$30,001 - $40,000 78 % 77 % 71 % 75 %
$40,001 - $50,000 85 % 82 % 77 % 77 %
$50,001 - $60,000 89 % 88 % 83 % 91 %
axis="income"Over $60,000 74 % 75 % 70 % 72 %
Education:
0-4 years 91 % 91 % 91 % 91 %
5-8 years 92 % 90 % 88 % 88 %
9-11 years 87 % 90 % 78 % 85 %
H.S. graduate 83 % 82 % 77 % 80 %
Some college 81 % 81 % 75 % 78 %
College graduate 76 % 74 % 71 % 73 %
Post college 72 % 69 % 71 % 67 %
City:
San Antonio 82 % 80 % 77 % 76 %
Dallas/Fort Worth 80 % 80 % 76 % 79 %
Houston 83 % 80 % 76 % 78 %
Austin 76 % 76 % 75 % 71 %
All other areas of TX 82 % 82 % 75 % 79 %

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