Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

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Skyline - Houston, Texas

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Matthew Shepard Online Resources

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As Matt's murderers are now in jail, this Web site is no longer being updated, but will remain as a resource, and memorial, to Matthew Shepard and all who have been murdered simply because of who they are. Please click below to visit our new Web site for updates on other hate crimes:

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My partner on this blog has published many posts re: Hate Crimes Bill and GLBT Rights. I rarely post on these subjects (as Granny does a far better job than I could) but I support Granny in these endeavors 100%. One of Granny's sons is an intelligent, charming, handsome, kind, gentle, sensitive, loving, compassionate man who happens to be gay. Granny's devotion and loyalty to her dearly loved son makes her especially sensitive to GLBT rights and to hate crimes directed against people of these orientations. I daresay that supportive parents of all GLBT folks harbor dread that some small minded, evil, bigoted hate monger may attack their children. Every parent fears harm coming to their child but these offspring are especially vulnerable.

Many people seem to think that the Hate Crimes Bill is solely to protect gays. It is not; it is designed to help protect people against "a crime of violence under Federal law or a felony under State or Indian tribal law; and (2) is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim..." I support the rights of GLBT citizens and ALL citizens. All citizens have the right of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"; pursuing happiness is scarcely an option if some hater beats you up or kills you because of who you are.

So why is the Hate Crimes Bill hanging fire? Because of bias - bias against gays and bias in favor of Fundies. Several years ago an attempt was made to include sexual orientation in the Hate Crimes Bill and it has been fought against vigorously ever since. The following posts deal with these factors with examples of gay bashing and racial bias.

Hate Crimes Legislation

Why is federal hate crimes legislation needed?

Documented hate crimes based on sexual orientation are on the rise according to FBI statistics. Unfortunately, the FBI data does not report separately on crimes against those who are targeted for non-traditional gender expression. We know that anti-GLBT hate crimes are underreported.
[WA: other types of hate crimes are also under reported. A previous post involved a racial bias hate crime but because it included rectal violation was called a sex crime. The stats on hate crimes are too low; perhaps it is prefered that the actual number appear low ].

State laws are inadequate to respond to these crimes. Only 27 states and the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws inclusive of sexual orientation, and only five of those and the District of Columbia are expressly transgender inclusive. A federal hate crimes law will strengthen existing laws by allowing the Department of Justice to assist local prosecutions, and where appropriate, investigate and prosecute cases.

Hate crimes are message crimes. Anti-LGBT hate violence, like all bias crimes, damages individuals, families, groups our communities. Perpetrators of anti-GLBT violence send a clear message to GLBT people, those perceived to be GLBT, or even their supporters, that they are unwelcome and unsafe in a particular community.

Most hate crimes are committed by “average people.” Perpetrators are typically not “psychos,” neo-nazis or skinheads, but are otherwise law-abiding people who disdain those who are different or fear those differences. Recent research suggests that anti-LGBT hate crime perpetrators perceive gay bashing to be socially sanctioned and therefore acceptable behavior.

Anti-GLBT hate crimes, like other bias crimes, are preventable. According to the American Psychological Association, “hate crimes are not necessarily random, uncontrollable, or inevitable occurrences,” and “there is overwhelming evidence that society can intervene to reduce or prevent many forms of violence, especially among young people, including the hate-induced violence that threatens and intimidates entire categories of people.”

Support for a federal hate crimes bill is widespread. Support from notable law enforcement agencies and state and local leaders includes 22 state attorneys general, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Foundation and the National Sheriffs' Association. More than 175 law enforcement, civil rights and religious organizations that supported the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act.

Hate Crimes Resources:
Information on current federal hate crimes legislation
Responses to criticisms of hate crime law
Statistics on hate crime

Summary of Hate Crime Statistics, 2004

Number of
Number of
Number of
Number of
known offenders
Race 4,0424,8635,1194,173
Anti-white 8299981,0271,085
Anti-black 2,7313,2813,4752,694
Anti-American Indian/Alaska Native 839710097
Anti-Asian/Pacific Islander 217252266188
Anti-multi-racial group 182235251109
Religion 1,3741,4801,586604
Anti-Jewish 9541,0031,076330
Anti-Catholic 57576837
Anti-Protestant 38434828
Anti-Islamic 156193201124
Anti-other religious group 12814014768
Anti-multi-religious group 35373914
Anti-atheism/agnosticism/etc. 6773
Sexual orientation 1,1971,4061,4821,258
Anti-male homosexual 738855902832
Anti-female homosexual164201212163
Anti-homosexual 245297314224
Anti-heterosexual 33353622
Anti-bisexual 17181817
Ethnicity/national origin 9721,2011,2541,047
Anti-Hispanic 475611646585
Anti-other ethnicity/national origin 497590608462
Multiple-bias incidents1714149
Total 7,6499,0359,5287,145
1. A multiple-bias incident is a hate crime in which two or more offense types were committed as a result of two or more bias motivations.
Source: Crime in the United States, 2004, FBI, Uniform Crime Reports.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc.
hate crimes bill, hanging fire for 4 years:

Congressional Legislation
Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2003 (formerly Hate Crimes Prevention)Bill # S.966Original Sponsor:Edward Kennedy (D-MA)Cosponsor Total: 40(last sponsor added 07/09/2003)33 Democrats1 Independents6 Republicans

About This Legislation:5/1/2003--Introduced.- Authorizes the Attorney General to provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that: (1) constitutes a crime of violence under Federal law or a felony under State or Indian tribal law; and (2) is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of the hate crime laws of the State or tribe. Directs the Attorney General to give priority for assistance to crimes committed by offenders who have committed crimes in more than one State and to rural jurisdictions that have difficulty covering the extraordinary investigation or prosecution expenses.
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