Religious leaders want hate crimes legislation

DENVER (AP) Colorado clergy called on state lawmakers Monday to support a revised and expanded bill that would enhance sentences for hate crimes.
Sen. Penfield Tate, D-Denver, said hate crimes deserve stiffer punishment because people are singled out because of their beliefs.
''A swastika spray painted on a synagogue wall is more than a property crime, it is a crime of intimidation intended to frighten all Jews. Threats or slurs against a handicapped or gay person spray painted on his or her garage door is also more than a property crime, it is an act intended to terrorize the homeowner and to intimidate all those who are disabled or gay,'' said Rev. Chuck Mowry, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
Supporters said although the state has an ethnic intimidation crimes law, it does not identify the classifications of hate crimes accepted generally across the nation.
The Bias-motivated Crimes Bill would expand the current law to include three new categories: the elderly, the disabled, and sexual orientation and gender identity. Twenty other states have already passed similar legislation.

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