We examine the processes by which states pass hate crime laws. We argue that states' decisions to enact such legislation are influenced by both state characteristics and the monitoring of the actions of other states. We find that the repeal of a sodomy law in a state does not increase its rate of enactment, but as more and more states enact hate crime laws, those that have repealed their sodomy laws are more likely to follow suit. We also find that states in which the political party of the governor differs from that of the majority of legislators are more likely to become referents to this process, so that once they have enacted a hate crime law, others quickly follow suit. We find no support for the claim that hate crime laws diffused within regions. Finally, with regard to state-level characteristics, we find that wealthier states with Democrat-dominated legislatures that have been policy innovators in the past have higher rates of enactment. Those states that have passed an earlier, less controversial hate crime law have lower rates of enactment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science