My instinct is to reject "hate crime" legislation because existing laws protect all citizens equally from crimes against person or property, and because such laws are used in some places to stifle citizen's speech, religion and assembly rights. UPDATE: Bob Ellis at DakotaVoice lists some of the absurd applications of such laws, and these examples should not be taken lightly.
But to be fair, Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, who supported the House version, and others who favor the statute make the points that this is simply an extra prosecutorial tool that might help deter a particular type of crime, and that the legislation provides safeguards so that it can't be used to prosecute people for expressing opinions.
Here's the relevant section of S.909, which emphasizes that the law covers only violent acts and is not applicable to various types of speech. See what you think. Are these safeguards enough to prevent erosion of the First Amendment?