The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition announces that HB 0335 by Rep. Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis) will be heard on April 22 in the House Criminal Practice subcommittee. The bill adds gender identity or expression as a sentencing enhancement factor to Tennessee's hate crimes statute that currently includes sexual orientation. Additionally, TTPC announces that Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville) and Rep. Larry Turner (D-Memphis) have signed on as co-sponsors.
The Tennessee Equality Project supports TTPC's efforts in advancing this bill. We have made the case many times for hate crimes legislation on this blog. We wish to remind everyone in this tight budget year in Tennessee that the fiscal impact of this bill has been assessed as minimal, which removes one of the chief objections. As we have said before, the main objections will now be ideological. But we hope that increasing numbers of legislators can put aside ideology and realize that there are real victims in Tennessee who deserve these protections. In particular, we should mention Duanna Johnson, who was beaten and verbally abused when she was taken into custody in Memphis and then later brutally murdered.
This bill, no matter how far it gets in the legislative process, is drawing attention to a serious problem that requires additional focus. It's time to protect all our state's citizens from acts of violence. When particular populations are at risk, public policy must address the problem.