Rep. Tommy Benton of Jefferson voted against Georgia's new hate crimes legislation earlier this week when it came before the state House for a final vote.

The legislation passed and has gone to Gov. Kemp for his signature.

The new law establishes additional penalties for crime committed against people because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

Georgia was one of only four states that didn't have a hate crimes law following a court ruling in 2006 that struck down an earlier hate crimes law.

It was the second time Benton voted against the legislation, the first vote coming in 2019 when it first passed the house.

The bill stalled after that until the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick at the hands of three white men who chased him down a residential street where one of the men shot him.

The George Floyd protests also gave new life to the legislation as the nation reacted in horror to his death.

The legislation passed with bipartisan support, although a few Republicans, including Benton, voted against it.

Benton has long been controversial about racially sensitive legislation and issues. He opposed putting a stature of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the grounds of the state capitol and publicly praised the original KKK.


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