This article provides definitions for hate crimes, a summary of national data on hate crime incidents, and descriptions of federal and state hate crime laws. The author presents various arguments in support of and against hate crime laws, and the inclusion of sexual orientation in such laws. The author contends that it is illogical and a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to exclude sexual orientationf rom hate crime laws. The perpetratorso f hate crime incidents, regardess of the target group, have similar motives and perpetrate similar types of assaults; the victims experience similar physical and psychological harm. Excluding a class of persons who are targets of hate crimes denies them equal protection under the law because the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment establishes a fundamental right to equal benefit of laws protecting personal security.

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