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July 25, 2014

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Nevada Senate votes to cover transgender people under hate crimes statute

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Cathleen Allison / AP

Nevada Senate Democrats Patricia Spearman and David Parks talk at the Legislative Building in Carson City, Nev., on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Earlier Thursday, the Senate approved Spearman’s bill that would include transgender people on the list of protected identites in Nevada’s hate crime statue.

Updated Thursday, March 21, 2013 | 12:06 p.m.

CARSON CITY — The Senate on Thursday approved a bill adding transgender people to the list of those covered by Nevada’s hate crimes statute.

“We all should be about the business of righting the wrong of discriminating against people because of their physicality,” said Sen. Patricia Spearman, who sponsored Senate Bill 139, which now heads to the Assembly.

The vote was 20-1, with Sen. Joseph Hardy, R-Boulder City, dissenting. Hardy said he was concerned the bill would protect individuals who aren't transgender but tried to claim being so to provoke an attack. He said a minor change in the Assembly could take care of his concerns.

Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, did not have an estimate of how many transgender people live in Nevada or the number of crimes committed against them.

She cited a case in Las Vegas where a woman waiting at a bus stop was beaten because she was transgender. The woman never reported the attack to police because she was afraid, said Spearman, .

The bill allows a judge to add a consecutive sentence of 1 to 20 years if it is proven that a crime was due to the victim’s gender identity.

“If you have never been a member of a minority group, you have no idea what it feels like to be discriminated against because of physical characteristics,” said Spearman, an African American.

“However God created you, God is in love with all of God’s creations,” said Spearman, a minister at a church in Clark County.

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