Yeah... hate crimes are a redundancy... and too often misapplied or ignored or meted out disproportionately depending on the status of the offender and victim. If the law isn't fairly adjudicated... then one group or the other becomes resentful and relations deteriorate... making the spirit behind the measure counterproductive... if indeed a spirit of equality was the driving force. All too often these types of measures are the product of emotionally charged ideologues who mean well but fail to see conflicts of interest inherent when we begin to customize a priori truths.
This sounds like homework and I am sure my answer will not assure you a decent grade... but I cannot agree with the principles behind hate crimes.
Justice is supposed to be blind... meaning amongst other things it is unfair when we apply different standards to it depending upon our assumptions of intention motivating the crime. I know that we take into consideration crimes of passion... but this is because the actions are seen to have been driven by impulse before better judgement intervenes. Typically a leniency is applied to these types of crimes. America is a republic which maintains the rights of the minority independent of the voice of the majority. No rights should be valued more favorably depending on the individuals status in either group.
If I punch a guy because I find out he has been having an affair with my wife...or if he makes rude comments to me... or if I take offense to him making a pass at me in public... rightly or wrongly... the motivation behind my actions in all three scenarios would be virtually identical... but the punishments would not be. This isn't fair.
Sadly, some states don't even have "hate crime" definitions or provisions. That being said, it depends on the state what defines a "hate crime".
Nationally, there has been a set definition by Congress. It says:
A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.
Two things omitted which I view as important, that it doesn't mention are a) disability and b) gender identification.
Seems to me that any crime would be a hate crime, though maybe not theft. But even if we hate the actions of another person that drives us to commit crimes that would be hate as well.
But even though Congress made this definition, it's not nationally-used. Each state has their own provisions.